Innocent man freed after 25 years in prison
By Frederick H. Lowe
Trice Edney Newswire
Brooklyn, N.Y., District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson on April 8 dismissed murder charges against Jonathan Fleming, who spent 25 years in prison, serving time for a crime that occurred in New York although he had solid alibi that he was in Florida at the time.
“Today’s actions follow a careful and thorough review of this case and based on key alibi facts that place Fleming in Florida at the time of the murder, I have decided to dismiss all charges against him,” Thompson said in a statement.
Fleming was convicted of the Aug. 15, 1989 murder of Darryl Rush in Brooklyn, although Fleming was vacationing with his children in Florida, where they were visiting Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Police arrested Fleming on Aug. 17, 1989, and in his possession, they found a Florida hotel receipt that was time stamped for Aug. 14, 1989, at 9:27 p.m., four hours before Rush was slain at 2:18 am.
During his trial, Fleming said he was innocent of the murder and the hotel receipt corroborated his defense.
The Brooklyn DA’s Conviction Review Unit, which is now headed by Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., was investigating Fleming’s conviction when they found the hotel receipt in his files.
The CRU also interviewed Fleming’s former girlfriend, who said she called Fleming on the night of Aug. 15, 1989, and he was still at the Florida hotel.
“This witness was found to be credible and phone records support her story,” Thompson said. “Other witnesses who claimed to have seen Fleming shoot Rush have either since recanted their testimony, or were found to be not credible.”
The Innocence Project, which is based in New York, praised Thompson’s decision.
“The Innocence Project is very pleased the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has agreed to dismiss the murder indictment against Darryl Rush after a review by its Conviction Review Unit found Rush was wrongfully convicted,” said Paul Cates, a spokesperson for the Innocence Project.
“District Attorney Thompson is to be commended for including defense attorneys in the process, as their presence helps to ensure the unit conducts a meaningful review of cases under consideration,” Cates said.
The 51 year-old Fleming said he has dreamed about this day for 24 years. “I am finally a free man,” he said. “I am going to eat dinner with my mother and my family.”