A man who was behind bars for decades has now been set free.
On Monday, just after 6 p.m., 57-year-old Sydney Holmes, walked out of the Broward County Jail a free man and into the arms of waiting family members.
Asked by a reporter what it feels like to be hugged by his family now that he's free, he said, “I can't put it into words. It's overwhelming.”
Broward prosecutors announced his upcoming release earlier in the day. He had already served 34 years of a 400-year prison sentence.
Holmes contacted the State Attorney's Conviction Review Unit in November 2020, claiming his innocence from an armed robbery case from 1988.
“I never did give up hope,” said Holmes. “I knew this day was going to come, sooner or later, and today is the day.”
He was convicted of being the driver for two men who robbed two people at gunpoint outside a convenience store.
Holmes was just 23 years old when he was convicted of being a getaway driver in an armed robbery near Fort Lauderdale.
7News was told that someone close to one of the victims was driving around and saw a car, and claimed it was the one involved in the robbery. It happened to be Holmes' car.
He would then spend 30 years in Florida State Prison due to that claim.
On Monday afternoon, he was listening in a courthouse as both the Broward County State Attorney's Office and his own lawyers talked about how he was wrongly convicted, and how the method used to identify a suspect back in 1988 was flawed.
“There's no evidence tying Mr. Holmes to the robbery other than a flawed identification of him as a suspect,” an attorney said. “No fingerprints, no physical evidence, nothing but a one witness ID that we believe, your honor, was a bad ID.”
Prosecutors determined Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence based on how he became a suspect in the first place, and a shaky eye-witness identification.
The sentence for Holmes was thrown out.
As attorneys dealt with final details, he was greeted in court by the State Attorney.
“I can't apologize for the past wrongs, what a prior or previous administration's done or what law enforcement did,” said Harold F. Pryor. “All I can do is what I control going forward, and that was to right a wrong and to really make him right, and potentially begin the process of making him whole again.”