Following a re-investigation of a 1989 murder, 51-year-old Jonathan Fleming walked out of Brooklyn Supreme Court as a free man after serving over 24 years in prison. But it wasn’t new forensic technologies or DNA analysis that proved his innocence: it was a time-stamped receipt.
During the time of the New York shooting of Darryl “Black” Rush, Fleming was in Orlando, Florida on a Disney World vacation, which he proved with photos and videos. However, prosecutors insisted Fleming could have gone to Florida and then come back to New York to murder Rush, and travel back to Florida. It wasn’t until investigators discovered a receipt from a Florida Quality Inn time-stamped August 14, 1989 at 9:27 p.m., less than five hours before Rush was murdered, that Fleming’s innocence could be proved.
Turns out, this receipt had been in Fleming’s case file the whole time—it just hadn’t been turned over to the defense. “This was not a mistake,” said one of his attorneys, Taylor Koss.
The case file also included bogus witness reports, some of whom said they saw Fleming shoot Rush and have since recanted their testimonies or have been uncovered as false. One eyewitness said she lied to police so that they’d let her off an unrelated case.
WSJ describes the scene when Fleming heard the news that the judge had vacated his conviction:
…the 51-year-old bowed his head and appeared frozen for a moment.
His mother, Patricia Fleming, 71, in court with other relatives, wasn’t as stoic. “Thank you, God,” she shouted, banging her palm on the front bench in the public area.
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