Free after 24 years: NYC man to be released from prison after hidden evidence clears him
A New York City man will be released from prison on Tuesday after evidence surfaced proving he was in Florida at the time of the murder for which he was convicted.
ProPublica reported on Monday that 51-year-old Jonathan Fleming’s release will be formally announced at a hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Fleming has served the first 24 years of a 25-to-life sentence for the August 1989 killing of Darryl Rush.
“It’s an amazing feeling for everyone involved,” Fleming’s attorney, Anthony Mayol, was quoted as saying. “We spoke to [Fleming] before it was officially confirmed, and to the extent he believes it’s going to happen he is elated, overjoyed, and relieved. He is beside himself with happiness.”
Newly-discovered evidence, including a telephone receipt and witness accounts, proved that Fleming was in Florida at the time Rush was shot and killed. Prosecutors did not turn over that material during Fleming’s original trial in 1990, nor did they share evidence suggesting that one witness testified against Fleming in exchange for escaping criminal charges of her own.
The New York Daily News reported that the witness, who was spared felony charges, recanted her testimony following Fleming’s conviction. A command log from the 90th Police District reportedly showed that the witness was arrested not long before the trial began.
The evidence surfaced during a joint investigation by Mayol and the Conviction Integrity Unit of then-Brooklyn District Attorney’s Charles “Joe” Hynes’ office. A man suspected of being the getaway driver in Rush’s killing told a unit member and a private investigator working for Mayol in November 2013 that he was not involved in the crime.
A month later, after Hynes lost his re-election bid, the head of the unit resigned, leaving the decision of releasing Fleming in the hands of Hynes’ successor, current District Attorney Kenneth Thompson. The Daily News reported that Thompson appointed Harvard Law professor Ronald Sullivan to lead a review of 50 cases investigated by Detective Louis Scarcella, among them the murder conviction against David Ranta, who was himself cleared and released in March 2013.
[Image: Hands Of The Prisoner In Jail (Image Toned)” via Shutterstock]