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Miami-Dade board advocates for life-term prisoner in alleged case of mistaken identity

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Justice Project reopened life-term prisoner Thomas James’s case over the summer.

MIAMI – The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Justice Project reopened life-term prisoner Thomas James’s case over the summer.

James was sentenced to life in prison back in 1991 for murder and armed robbery in Miami’s Coconut Grove. Three decades later, at 56, new evidence suggests James didn’t commit the crime at all.

On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board joined the “Free Thomas James” chorus, which includes organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Florida Rising.

“It looks like there has been a terrible mistake, and correcting that mistake has to be done swiftly and urgently,” said Stephen Johnson, the chair at the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board.

After a July 28 story published on GQ magazine, the case — its lack of physical evidence and a flawed eye witness — got national attention after accusing detectives of confusing him with the real suspect, also named Thomas James, who is also serving a life sentence for unrelated crimes.

“Just like we have a swift and urgent need for justice, justice works both ways,” Johnson said. “It’s imprisoning the guilty, but it’s also making sure we free the innocent.”


About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.