Man freed after serving over 34 years for crime he didn’t commit talks about future

After serving 34 years for a crime that prosecutors said he didn't commit, Sidney Holmes was freed on Monday and he said on Tuesday that he is planning his future and that may include opening his own business.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The internet was known as the world wide web when a Broward County judge sentenced Sidney Holmes to 400 years in state prison in 1989 for a crime that prosecutors recently found he didn’t commit.

The use of everything from GPS to Bluetooth, drones, hybrid and self-driving cars, 3-D printing, Apple Pay, and Bitcoin developed while Holmes was behind bars for over 34 years.

“Everything is totally different; it has changed,” Holmes, 57, said on Tuesday.

Holmes walked out of Broward County’s main jail a free man at about 6 p.m., on Monday. He rushed to the arms of his mother, Mary Holmes. His father and grandfather died while he was in jail.

“Holmes’s exoneration is not because of the system, but in spite of the system, it took many years of him advocating for himself with no one listening,” Attorney Seth Miller said on Tuesday.

The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that works to help innocent prisoners identified issues with the case, according to Miller, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida.

The Broward State Attorney’s conviction review unit worked with the Innocence Project with the help of a federal grant, according to State Attorney Harold F. Pryor, who reported Holmes’s identification as a suspect “was scientifically unreliable” but “deputies followed the accepted standards at the time.”

Detectives arrested Holmes in 1988 after accusing him of working with two armed robbers near the intersection of Northwest Sixth Street and 27 Avenue, according to prosecutors. The area is now home to African-American Research Library And Cultural Center, which opened in 2002.

Deputies never identified the gunmen who actually held the victims at gunpoint, and forged forward with the case against Holmes after the victim’s brother, who didn’t witness the crime, saw Holmes driving a popular Oldsmobile Cutlass and accused him without evidence.

One of the victims did not identify Holmes from a first photo lineup and the other said she never saw him, according to the Broward State Attorney’s conviction review unit’s Feb. 20 memo on the case.

“I am not mad,” Holmes said later adding, “What would mad do for me?”

Broward Circuit Judge Edward Merrigan signed an order approving a request for his release. Holmes was in tears on Monday in the courtroom and later smiled while leaving the jail to have seafood at Olive Garden.

On Tuesday, Holmes said he has been thinking about the innocent inmates who have yet to be heard and he plans to continue to advocate for them. He said that spending time with his grandkids was what made it all sink in.

“I want to own a business. I want to own a restaurant business, a truck, you know, a food truck,” Holmes said adding that he also dreams of vacations around the world with his family.

Read the conviction review unit’s final memo

Watch Monday’s afternoon report

Watch Monday’s night report

Watch the raw video of his release

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.