Man cleared of murder after 25 years in jail

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IOL  APTOPIX Murder Exoneration Associated Press Jonathan Fleming hugs his attorney Anthony Mayol while his other attorney, Taylor Koss, applauds in Brooklyn's Supreme court, after a judge declared him a free man. Picture: Bebeto Matthews

New York - A New York man savoured his first full day of freedom on Wednesday after spending 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

Jonathan Fleming, 51, was found guilty on August 15, 1989 of shooting dead rival drug trafficker Darryl Rush in Brooklyn.

He maintained he was with family in Orlando, Florida at the time of the murder but prosecutors produced a list of 53 flights he could have caught in time to kill Rush in New York.

Fleming was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life.

But Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson on Tuesday threw out the conviction after re-opening the case.

“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,” he said.

Thompson, who was elected last November, campaigned to clean up the district attorney's office.

Fleming had a Florida hotel receipt dated August 14, 1989 and time stamped at 9.27pm, four hours before Rush was shot and killed in Brooklyn.

“At trial, Fleming asserted an alibi defence, and that receipt would have corroborated his defence,” said Thompson.

Fleming's sentence is one of dozens in Brooklyn that will be re-examined by a special unit headed by Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan and working with three independent lawyers.

The unit interviewed a former girlfriend of Fleming, who said he telephoned her on the night of August 15, 1989 in Florida, information corroborated by telephone records, Thompson said.

Other witnesses who claimed to have seen Fleming shoot Rush have either recanted their testimony, or were found to be not credible, Thompson added.

Several of the cases being reviewed were investigated by retired police detective Louis Scarcella, suspected of using illegal methods to frame suspects. - Reuters, Sapa-AFP


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