Man jailed for 17 years, not a thief but a 'lookalike'

A Missouri man has spent nearly 17 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of a robbery because he looked like another man who could have done it.

Richard Anthony Jones, of Kansas City, was arrested after witnesses to the robbery picked him out of a photo lineup.

He was freed last week after police found his 'doppleganger', or lookalike.

“When I saw that picture, it made sense to me,” Jones said in an interview with the Kansas City Star.

"Either you’re going to think they’re the same person or you’re going to be like, ‘Man these guys, they look so much alike.”

The judge declared there was no longer enough evidence to support his conviction.

The men look alike. Photo: Kansas Department of Corretions
The men look alike. Photo: Kansas Department of Corretions

During his time behind bars, Jones heard of the uncanny resemblance he had to another inmate.

Amazingly, they also share the same first name.

After several failed attempts to appeal his conviction, he brought up the information to his lawyers at the Missouri Innocence Project.

“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” Jones’ attorney Alice Craig said.

Jones was jailed after being found guilty of armed robbery in 1999.

Witnesses said they saw a man wrestle a woman to the ground outside a Walmart in Kansas City, Kansas in an attempt to steal her purse.

While no DNA, fingerprint, or physical evidence identified Jones at the scene, eyewitnesses positively identified Jones as the perpetrator after being shown photos out of a police database.

On the photo lineup, which his attorneys called “highly suggestive,” Jones was the only one who fit the description.

Jones’ attorneys later showed pictures of the two men to the victim, two witnesses and the prosecutor - none of them could tell the men apart.

More information came to light when investigators found his lookalike, known as “Ricky,” lived in Kansas City, Kansas, near the address where the robbery took place. Jones lived on the other side of town in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Ricky” testified at the hearing that he did not commit the robbery.

While stopping short of saying the other man committed the crime, the judge found “a jury would not be able to reach a determination that this defendant was guilty” in light of the new evidence.