Jonathan Fleming, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years before being exonerated last year, reached a $6.2 million settlement with New York City yesterday, according to an article in the
Fleming was convicted of shooting a friend in 1989 and maintained his innocence, insisting that he was in Orlando on a vacation to Disney World at the time of the murder. Although Fleming had evidence to support his alibi, such as plane tickets and videos from his trip, the prosecution argued that Fleming still could have made it back to New York in time to have committed the crime. The prosecution also had a woman testify that she was an eyewitness who had seen Fleming commit the murder. According to a
New York Times
article published after Fleming’s exoneration last spring, the woman recanted her testimony before Fleming was sentenced and confessed to testifying in exchange for a dismissal of charges against her, but the prosecution maintained that she was lying.
In 2013, the Conviction Integrity Unit looked into Fleming’s case and found police logs that confirmed the prosecution’s “eyewitness” had indeed been awarded for her testimony, wrote the
New York Times
. The unit also found a phone receipt originally from Fleming’s pocket, which proved that he had been in Orlando at a time that made it highly unlikely that he could have returned to New York and committed the murder within its time frame. The
reports that this
key evidence, in addition to a 1989 letter from Orlando police telling New York detectives that hotel employees remembered seeing Fleming in Orlando, was never given to the defense. Fleming was released last year after the Brooklyn district attorney’s office agreed that Fleming’s alibi was indeed valid.
Fleming’s settlement was awarded relatively quickly, sparing him much of the hardship of fighting for money from the city—an often lengthy and costly hurdle that many exonerees face after their release. Comptroller Scott Stringer said Tuesday, “We cannot give back the time that he served, but the city of New York can offer Jonathan Fleming this compensation for the injustice that was committed against him.”