Murder charges against imprisoned man dismissed in Brooklyn

Stacey Sager with the report from Downtown Brooklyn.
April 8, 2014 2:19:26 PM PDT
The Brooklyn District Attorney dismissed murder charges Tuesday against a man who spent 24 years in prison.

Jonathan Fleming's family and attorneys gave thanks and gave him hug after hug after he was cleared for a crime he never committed. But it was a long time coming.

"I waited for 24 and a half years for this nightmare to be over and it's finally here," said Fleming. "I dreamt about this many nights, and I'm finally a free man."

Fleming was charged with the murder of Darryl Rush in 1989 at the Ten Eyck Houses in Williamsburg.

He has always claimed he was in Florida at Disney World with his family when it happened.

Now newly discovered evidence supports that claim, including a telephone receipt that showed Fleming was in Orlando hours before the murder. In fact, workers at the hotel remembered him for his hefty phone bill.

The receipt, the ultimate smoking gun, was finally exposed, but never acknowledged 25 years ago by investigators.

His lawyers suggest it was all about an expedient conviction.

"Whether or not this receipt was ever recovered from his pocket, it's clear now it was, so how was that a mistake? He had it in his pocket," said Fleming's attorney Taylor Hoss.

According to Fleming's attorneys, the main witness in the case recanted shortly after trial, but nobody believed her.

She had identified Fleming as the shooter, but after trial said she made it up because officers investigating the case promised to drop a felony grand larceny charge against her if she identified Fleming as the shooter.

When the current Brooklyn DA's office reviewed the case, they found police logs that verified that she had been arrested that night under a different name, and charges were dropped shortly after making her statement in the Rush murder.

The phone receipt was never presented at trial.

Fleming's mother Patricia soaked up every minute.

"He's a fighter, my son is a fighter. He knows he didn't do it and he didn't give up, he was fighting these 24 years," she said. ('Are you angry?') "No, I'm not angry, I'm just glad to have him back," she said.

And so is he, glad to be back, free for the first time in more than two decades.

"I feel wonderful, I'm going to eat dinner with my mother and my family, and I'm going to live the rest of my life," said Fleming.

"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 in the interest of justice," said District Attorney Ken Thompson.