A man who spent almost a quarter of a century in prison for a murder he didn’t commit was freed Tuesday as Brooklyn prosecutors dismissed charges against him in the 1989 shooting of a friend.
A reinvestigation of the Williamsburg slaying proved that Jonathan Fleming, 51, was in Florida on August 15, 1989, as he and witnesses maintained, and could not possibly have killed Darryl Rush. The receipt from his Florida hotel showing a time stamp four hours before the murder was found in his case files, according to the Brooklyn DA.
“I have decided to dismiss all charges against him in the interest of justice,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
The Conviction Review Unit of the Brooklyn DA’s office interviewed a former girlfriend of Fleming’s who said she called Fleming on the night of the murder at his hotel. Phone records corroborated her story.
Fleming’s release is the latest reversal of a murder conviction in the Brooklyn office. In March 2013, David Ranta was released after serving 23 years for the 1990 murder of a rabbi, after contending he was framed by a Brooklyn NYPD detective, Louis Scarcella.
After a series of New York Times exposes revealed troubling questions about the tactics of Scarcella and his frequent use of witness statements from a single (now, deceased) drug addict, then-Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes) ordered a review of 50 murder cases. Critics complained that Hynes’ “Conviction Integrity Unit,” was moving too slowly to reverse unjust convictions, and Hynes was defeated by Thompson in November.
On Monday, Thompson announced that Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan will head up his reorganized Conviction Review Unit.