In 1990, Brooklyn native Jonathan Fleming was charged with murdering Darryl Rush at the Williamsburg Houses and sentenced to 25 years to life, despite not being in the state when the murder occurred.
24 years later, a New York City judge overturned the 51-year-old Fleming’s conviction, citing evidence in the original case report that confirmed that Fleming was in Florida at the time of the murder, and should have been recognized during the trial.
Friday night, Fleming was treated to a night at Barclays Center for a Brooklyn Nets game against the Atlanta Hawks, getting a pre-game tour of the arena and chatting up Katie Couric courtside.
Fleming told his story of both redemption and adjustment to a new world to Rich Shapiro of the New York Daily News:
At about 2:30 p.m. on April 7, Fleming’s counselor showed up outside his cell unannounced.
“It’s over,” the counselor said, according to Fleming. She told him he had been exonerated and was slated to appear before a judge at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
“I actually sat on my bed and I cried,” Fleming said. “Tears of joy.”
The judge allowed Fleming to walk out of Brooklyn Supreme Court the following day.
But the now 51-year-old man, who had spent nearly half his life behind bars, quickly realized he was stepping into an uncertain future.
He had no money in his pockets and no idea where he would sleep that night.
His lawyers have been paying for him to stay at a hotel but even that has been an unsettling experience.
Fleming hasn’t been able to figure out how to use the coffee machine inside of his room.
One day this week, he had a similarly confusing experience at a Wendy’s. After going the bathroom, he couldn’t figure out how to flush the toilet and got spooked when it happened automatically.