Two Jailed For Nine Months; Look-Alikes Now Face Charges
OCALA, Fla. (AP) _ Two men jailed for nine months awaiting trial on robbery charges were cleared when a pair of look-alikes confessed, police said, but the authorities weren’t the only ones fooled.
One of the men falsely accused, Thomas Sheffield, 38, had been identified by his own mother as one of the robbers in photographs taken by a security camera, authorities said.
And his co-defendant, Edgar Rushing, 19, after being shown one of the pictures by an investigator, had asked, ″Where did you get the photo of me?″ according to Assistant State Attorney Douglas Molloy.
The were cleared after Kenneth Burns, 24, and his brother, Robert, 21, confessed to the armed robberies of three convenience stores and a grocery store between Nov. 15 and Dec. 28, 1986, Molloy said.
They were taken into custody Monday and jailed on weapons and robbery charges.
″It’s highly unusual and almost virtually impossible to have two individuals (be accused of robbing) several stores - and their surveillance photos depict them as being look-alikes of two other individuals who actually robbed the stores - and us not find this out until almost a year later,″ said Marion County sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Ergle.
Molloy said he was preparing to prosecute Sheffield and Rushing when an informant told him the two did not commit the armed robberies.
Rushing, arrested in December, was released in August on $2,000 bail. Sheffield, arrested in January, was released in October on a court order Molloy helped arrange.
Ergle said he doesn’t know what, if anything, the sheriff’s department can do to make amends to Sheffield and Rushing.
″If there has been any monetary loss suffered by either of the defendants, that will have to be determined through a civil proceeding,″ he said. ″We’re not in a position to determine if they have suffered a loss or not.″