Florida Man Who Spent 31 Years in Prison to be Freed After Doubts Emerge About 1990 Armed Robbery

Tony Hopps appears a recent photo from the Florida Department of Corrections. [ Florida Department of Corrections ]

A man who has spent three decades in prison for a 1990 robbery will go free after Tampa prosecutors concluded they can no longer stand behind his conviction.

Tony G. Hopps, 56, has been incarcerated 31 years for an armed theft at the Tahitian Inn in South Tampa.

Hopps’ conviction and life sentence were based largely on a photo array the victims viewed in identifying him as the person who robbed them. But a recent investigation by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s conviction review unit found problems with the way the photos were assembled and shown. The unit also found new witnesses to corroborate Hopps’ alibi.

“There is no valid evidence to suggest Hopps committed the crime and there is substantial evidence to suggest he did not do it,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren told the Tampa Bay Times.

The Innocence Project of Florida shepherded Hopps’ case in court this month.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Lyann Goudie issued a written order Monday declaring that the new evidence would probably produce an acquittal in a new trial. She overturned his conviction and sentence.

Hopps was expected to walk out of Hardee Correctional Institution sometime late Monday.

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SOURCE: Tampa Bay Times, Dan Sullivan