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New York Man Cleared of 1989 Murder

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Posted: April 9, 2014   5:15 PM

After serving 25 years in prison for a Brooklyn murder he did not commit, a New York man was released Tuesday and his conviction for murder was overturned. The New York Times reported that Jonathan Fleming was in Florida when the 1989 murder took place and new evidence proving that fact is what led to the indictment being dismissed. The valuable piece of evidence was a phone bill from the hotel where Fleming was staying during his Florida trip. In court yesterday, both parties agreed that the bill proved his innocence.
Fleming was convicted of the murder of a rival drug dealer and sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars despite his alibi of being in Orlando for a family trip to Walt Disney World. Plane tickets and video from the vacation were ignored by prosecutors who said he could have taken any number of flights back to New York to commit the murder. An eyewitness identified Fleming at trial in exchange for a dismissal of a grand larceny charge. When she recanted before sentencing, the prosecution claimed she was lying.
The Times reports that after Fleming’s attorneys presented new evidence proving that their client was out of town when the crime occurred, an assistant district attorney, Mark Hale, told the judge, Matthew J. D’Emic, “Had it [the evidence] been available at the trial, the likely outcome of the trial would have been different.”
Fleming is among dozens of wrongful conviction cases that the new Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth Thompson, inherited from Charles Hynes when he took office this year. It is a separate group from the 50 murder cases that resulted in a guilty verdict that were investigated by Louis Scarcella that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit reopened last year. Scarcella was not involved in Fleming’s case.
Hale said based on the evidence, the state cannot retry Fleming.
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