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17 years in, doppelgänger key to inmate exoneration

July 31, 2017

In 1999, Richard Jones was sentenced to a 19-year prison term, convicted of aggravated robbery for purse snatching at a Walmart parking lot. Numerous appeals failed to secure his release though he maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. However, a new discovery cut two years off his sentence; someone else committed the crime for which Richard was penalized for close to two decades. He gained his release on June 8, 2017, after serving 17 years in custody.

Two men told police they picked up the alleged offender, Ricky Amos, also known as ‘Rick,” from the drug house where he lived. They drove to Walmart to commit the robbery. Of course, the names Rick, Ricky and Richard can all be used interchangeably, leaving Richard Jones a target for pinning the robbery. However, that’s not the oddest part of the story; Ricky Amos and Richard Jones are doppelgangers. The two men look strikingly similar with the same facial features, hair and cornrows. Both possess a 6-feet-tall, 200-pound frame and are roughly the same age.

In 2015, fellow inmates informed Jones of another inmate that looked just like him with a similar name. Jones connected with the Midwest Innocence Project and the University of Kansas Innocence Project who secured his release.

Upon discovering his ‘twin,’ Jones commented that the pieces to the mystery of his conviction fell into place. He understood how authorities could easily confuse him with the actual offender.

At his sentencing, Jones was separated from his two young daughters. Finally, in mid-June 2017, Jones reunited with the girls, now women, and met his granddaughter for the first time.

Amos has not been charged but is serving time for other crimes. Jones also had a criminal record prior to his incarceration. A GoFundMe page has been setup to help Jones get back on his feet. Kansas does not have a law requiring the state to compensate wrongly convicted individuals for overturned convictions.

A wrongful conviction robs the person of years of their life. If you or a loved one have faced wrong imprisonment, contact our legal team today.

Larry Bellomo is an Orange County Family Law attorney with over three decades of experience in practice.