A New York man wrongly convicted of murder more than 24 years ago was freed on Tuesday after a judge vacated the decades-old conviction.
Jonathan Fleming, 51, was found guilty in a Brooklyn killing in 1989, despite the fact that he had an alibi that placed him in Florida at the time of the shooting, reports CNN.
Now that he's been freed, what is Fleming's next legal move?
Alibi Ignored in Murder Case
More than 20 years ago, Fleming attempted to defend himself from homicide charges by telling jurors he was in Florida. According to CNN, he claimed to have made calls from a Florida hotel room on the night of the victim's murder, but the prosecution convinced a jury that the alibi was baseless.
However, the Brooklyn district attorney's Conviction Review Unit determined that police had found a receipt for Fleming's phone records and corroborating testimony from his ex-girlfriend supporting his Florida alibi. The prosecution is required to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense in a criminal case, so it seems fishy that police would not have revealed what they had found.
One of the prosecution's main witnesses in Fleming's case, who testified to seeing Fleming shoot the victim, later recanted weeks after his conviction. CNN reports that she said police had coaxed her into testifying against Fleming "to avoid going back to jail."
This combination of investigatory mishaps is likely what led the Kings County District Attorney's Office to drop all charges against Fleming "in the interest of justice," Reuters reports.
Compensation for Wrongful Conviction
Fleming's release follows on the heels of a $6.4 million settlement with the City of New York for another man who claimed to have wrongly spent more than two decades in prison for murder. That case involved exculpatory evidence being purposefully concealed by rogue ex-NYPD detective Louis Scarcella, who has been accused in several wrongful conviction cases.
Although Scarcella was not involved in Fleming's case, Fleming could still file a complaint with the city for the nearly 25 years he spent behind bars. Suing the government, even the City of New York, typically requires filing an administrative claim first, allowing the government to respond without a lawsuit being filed.
As one of Fleming's attorneys candidly told reporters after his client's conviction was vacated, "We're suing everybody, let's be honest."
- Man cleared of NYC murder after 25 years in prison (The Associated Press)
- Wrongly Convicted Texas Inmate Freed after 15 years (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Ohio Man Freed by DNA Evidence After 29 Years in Prison (FindLaw's Blotter)
- How to Sue the NYPD (FindLaw's New York Criminal Law Blog)