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Is this bank robber still out there?

MANATEE — A Manatee County judge Sunday ordered the release of a man authorities say robbed a Manatee bank earlier this month.

Jamie Ray Vickers, 41, was arrested at his home Friday for allegedly robbing a Fifth Third Bank in the 5300 block of 26th Street West on July 17.

On Saturday, Vickers’ family testified in a hearing that he was innocent. Family members said in testimony Vickers was home when the bank robbery took place.

Vickers went from having a $150,000 bond to being released on his own recognizance and walking out of the jail. A smiling Vickers was seen walking downtown Sunday morning.

“The family and I are ecstatic he has been released on his own recognizance, and we look forward to the day when all charges will be dropped,” said Mark Lipinski, a defense attorney representing Vickers. “He is an innocent man wrongly accused.”

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives developed probable cause to arrest Vickers after a bank manager picked his photo out of a photo pack and after Vickers’ brother, Daniel, told detectives it was Vickers in the bank robbery photos, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said, “We’re still confident we have probable cause. However, if in fact, there is evidence that says he didn’t do it — obviously we want to know about that and act accordingly. Of course, we don’t want to have the wrong person.”

Vickers’ mother, who testified her son was at home during the robbery, said in court he came to her residence because he needed money to pay his electric bill. The robber in the bank’s surveillance picture does not resemble Vickers, according to family members.

Vickers has always worn a goatee. In the bank robbery pictures, the suspect is cleanshaven. Six days after the bank robbery, Vickers was arrested with a full grown goatee.

Lipinski also noted his client has a different build than the bank robbery suspect shown in the surveillance photos.

“It’s a different body type. It’s different hair,” he said, pointing to the balding, greyish light hair in the photos and comparing it to his client’s light brown hair in a Manatee County jail mug shot.

The bank robber in the photos has a distinct pot belly. He said Vickers does not.

Bank employees told detectives a white van was seen heading south on 25th Street West after the robbery. According to the warrant, detectives saw a white van parked at Vickers’ residence.

“It’s just another connection,” Bristow said when asked about the van.

Detectives believe Vickers also robbed the same bank April 28. He has not been charged with that robbery.

In both robberies, the suspect used a handgun.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.

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