After serving 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery he adamantly denied committing, a Kansas City man is now free. What is particularly surprising about this case, however, is the reason for his freedom: he alleges his doppelganger may have actually committed the crime.
According to a recent report by the Kansas City Star, the man had actually heard about this doppelganger — coincidently, another prisoner — from several individuals, but it wasn’t until his attorneys dug deeper into the case that they realized just how much the two men looked alike. Not only that, but they shared the same first name and the other man had lived near where the robbery occurred, while the man who was wrongfully convicted of the crime actually lived across the state line.
So why was he convicted in the first place?
Alarmingly, there was no physical evidence actually tying the originally convicted individual to the 1999 crime — no fingerprints, no DNA, nothing. The man even had an alibi that he was with his girlfriend and family members on the day of the robbery. In fact, the only evidence police had to go on was eyewitness testimony.
Sadly, based on this testimony alone, the man was convicted and sentenced to 19 years.
However, once his attorneys discovered the existence of his doppelganger years later, they showed the pictures of both men to the victim, the eyewitnesses and the prosecutor. All four said they could not distinguish between the two men.
Based on this new evidence, a District Judge ordered the man’s release. While the court didn’t go as far as to say that the other man actually committed the robbery, it determined that, based on the new evidence, “no reasonable juror would have convicted” the first man, according the recent report.
Even though this man has been freed, he will never be able to get the 17 years of his life back, not to mention there is no way of knowing how many other individuals may still be in jail based on faulty eyewitness testimony.