A judge freed a Wyandotte County man imprisoned for a 1999 Roeland Park Walmart robbery.
Richard Jones walked out of the Johnson County jail Thursday afternoon after his lawyers convinced a Johnson County judge Wednesday that his conviction was based on just one eyewitness.
“It's unbelievable, I ain't seen myself being here,” Jones said as he walked out of the detention center. “It's been 17 years. Something I ain't do, but I'm thankful. I'm blessed."
It was an emotional moment Jones never thought he’d see: hugging family, friends and strangers who helped prove his innocence.
“I just know that I have friends for life,” he said. “They family to me, not friends, they family, I'm just grateful."
"We work on cases all the time trying to get people out, and sometimes we're successful, sometimes we're not,” Jones’s attorney Alice Craig said. “This was actually a good day for us.”
Jones’ lawyers with the Midwest Innocence Project showed these mug shots to the judge claiming the other similar looking man should be charged with the crime.
On the left is a mugshot of a man who goes by "Ricky." On the right is Richard Jones. Jones’ lawyers with the Midwest Innocence Project showed these mug shots to the judge claiming the other similar looking man should be charged with the crime.
“I think the judge recognized that an injustice had been done. Everyone did. The victim did, the original prosecutor did and came to testify that Richard Jones didn't commit this crime,” said Tricia Bushnell, director of the Midwest Innocence Project.
Jones’ lawyers also said the police showed the eyewitness this lineup with Jones’ picture brighter than the other suspects.
The defense claims the police never looked at another suspect.
While Jones can’t get those 17 years he was imprisoned back, he says he want to focus on those close to him.
“You never think it could happen to you until it really happens and you waking up in a prison cell every day for a crime you didn't commit, it's unbelievable,” Jones said. “This is my granddaughter. This is my first time even holding her. And seeing her in person.”
His 20-year-old daughter Obsession Washington was just a toddler at the time Jones was put behind bars. She said she is ready to make new memories with her dad.
“You can't get back from the 17 years so I guess you can move forward from what we didn't get together,” Washington said.
A GoFundMe Page has been set up for Jones to help with expenses.
We asked the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office for a comment on the case and if they plan to charge the other suspect for the crime, but we have yet to hear back.