Jerome Hayes bears a resemblance to his brother–Jermaurice Sieron Hayes–and that resemblance led to Jerome losing over a year and a half of freedom.
Even though police had evidence that pointed to Jermaurice, Jerome had passed a polygraph, and had alibis for many of the crimes he’d allegedly committed, police still kept him in jail without bond.
A Times-Union investigation found Jerome’s case included holes in documentation about how he became the target suspect, failure by a prosecutor to turn over evidence in compliance with a court order, inaccurate statements by a prosecutor and at least two violations of police policy. There was also a revolving door of defense attorneys that contributed to at least a five-month slowdown in the case.
As the case started falling apart, one of the detectives would question why Jerome was still behind bars and a prosecutor would tell a detective she thought Jermaurice committed the crimes. Both occurred more than a year before Jerome was ultimately released.
“It’s a shame that Jerome had to go through this,” James Boyle, one of Jerome’s lawyers, told the paper. “He’s not an angel. He’s had some run-ins with the cops in the past. But for him to have been put in this situation and held in custody for 19 months — it’s a shame.”
Jerome’s incarceration stemmed from cell phone robberies, all of which were connected to at least one of the three emails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and Jermauricehayes17@gmail.com.
If you recall, the last two emails have at least the first name of Jerome’s brother–Jermaurice. Instead, however, the names led police to Jerome, thinking that the names were a mix of Jerome’s first name, as well as his middle name–Maurice.
At that point, Jerome became the prime target. Three victims identified Jerome, who bears a strong resemblance to his brother–Jermaurice. Police, however, did not include photos of Jermaurice in the photo-line up.
A warrant was issued for Jerome’s arrest, and the new father, who was working two jobs at the time, lost everything.
“I got a brother. He look just like me,” Jerome said when he was questioned by investigators about the robberies.
“We’re not going to buy this crap about your brother this, your brother that,” a detective tells him. “Because we have proof that it was you.”
The detective tells the 21 year old that he should be ashamed of himself for trying to blame his younger brother for the crime.
At one point, the detective offered to show a picture of Jerome’s brother to a victim, but was told by a prosecutor to “hold off.”
Jerome’s girlfriend, who also worked at the Steak ‘n Shake with him, got evidence from their employer that Jerome was clocked in at work during three of the five robberies. That hard evidence didn’t sway prosecutors though.
Prosecutors also told Jerome to take a polygraph, “And if you take it and pass it, we’ll let you go.” Jerome passed. They kept him in jail without bond.
Jerome was eventually let go after spending 589 days in jail and an in-person line-up, where one victim identified Jermaurice as her assailant and another victim couldn’t decide between the two brothers.