Jonathan Fleming, a New York man who spent almost 25 years behind bars for murder, was freed on Tuesday and cleared of a Brooklyn killing that happened when he was 1,100 miles away on a Disney World vacation.
Jonathan Fleming, now 51, had been on holiday in Disney World with his family at the time of the 1989 murder and had numerous documents supporting his alibi. Fleming showed the cops his plane tickets, videos and postcards from his trip, but prosecutors at the time suggested he could have made a super quick round-trip plane trip to return to New York – so he was convicted on the crime. What?!?!
Soon after his 1990 conviction, a key witness (aka the only witness) who had reported she had seen Fleming shoot Darryl Rush, recanted her testimony, admitting she had lied. She later said police persuaded her to give a statement against Fleming to avoid going back to jail for an unrelated charge. But nothing really came from that and Fleming continued to rot away in jail.
Fast forward twenty plus years and a review of the case files revealed that investigators had a hotel receipt Fleming paid in Florida five hours before the shooting and a letter from Orlando police saying employees at the hotel remembered him. Neither piece of evidence was handed over to Fleming’s first defense attorney. What?!?!
After years of reviewing documents and re-interviewing witnesses, it was finally determined that Fleming was in fact on a family trip to Disney World and the only evidence tying him to the crime was an alleged witness who later took back her statement.
So after 24 years and 8 months in prison, Jonathan Fleming was freed.
“As you can imagine, after sitting in jail for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit, he can’t help but feel vindicated,” said one of Fleming’s lawyers, Anthony Mayol. “On the flip side, that’s 25 years that have been stolen, that he’ll never get back.”
“He has no job, no career, no prospects,” Koss, another of Fleming’s lawyers said.
So how will he get his life back together?
“We’re suing everybody, let’s be honest,” Koss added.