A man wrongly convicted in a 1989 NYC killing is prepared to sue the city for $162 million. Jonathan Fleming, now age 51, was charged and convicted in the murder of Darryl “Black” Rush. Authorities said Rush was shot during a dispute over money. Although Fleming was in Florida during the shooting, he was identified as the primary suspect.
Rush was shot and killed on August 15, 1989. Three days later, Fleming and his family returned home from a trip to Disney World.
Shortly after Fleming’s return, he was approached by authorities for questioning. Although he provided plane tickets, receipts, and post cards from his trip, authorities were not convinced.
As reported by Police State USA, an eyewitness identified Jonathan Fleming as the sole perpetrator in the 1989 NYC killing. Jacqueline Belardo eventually testified on behalf of the state, explaining that she personally observed the violent exchange.
Although Fleming’s defense team produced evidence of their client’s alibi, key evidence apparently vanished from his file. Even more damning, other evidence was never seen or heard by the jury.
Following Fleming’s conviction, Jacqueline Belardo admitted that she heard the gunshot. However, she did not personally witness the 1989 NYC killing. Furthermore, she never witnessed the defendant anywhere near the scene.
In 2013, investigators found several pieces of evidence that were either withheld or lost during the initial trial. Defense attorney Taylor Koss said the evidence definitively proves his client was in Florida when Darryl “Black” Rush was killed.
Included in the new evidence was eyewitness testimony that proves the defendant was indeed in Florida on August 15, 1989. Although the witness was available to testify in 1989, the testimony was not allowed during the initial trial.
After spending nearly 25 years in prison, Jonathan was exonerated in the 1989 NYC killing. Following Fleming’s release, attorney Taylor Koss filed a notice of claim with the New York City comptroller’s office.
As reported by Yahoo News, Fleming is seeking damages in the amount of $162 million. Koss said his client was found guilty due to the negligence of the prosecutor’s office and investigators.
As Koss explains, Fleming literally lost 25 years of his life due to their negligence:
“As you can imagine, after sitting in jail for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit, he can’t help but feel vindicated… On the flip side, that’s 25 years that have been stolen, that he’ll never get back.”
Although Jonathan Fleming was exonerated in the 1989 NYC killing, he is now tasked with rebuilding the life he lost. If New York City is found civilly liable for his conviction, the $162 million will certainly help.
[Image via Huffington Post]