After 24 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, man now rebuilding his life in Raleigh

Joel Brown Image
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- He spent nearly a quarter century in prison for a murder he did not commit and now Jonathan Fleming is rebuilding his life in the Triangle.

When Fleming's murder conviction was dismissed by a New York judge in 2014, he didn't have a place to live, a job, or clear path forward. Four years later Fleming has found all that in Raleigh.

"I love it, yes I do. It's downtown, everything is here. And I love it," Fleming said as we walked down Blount Street near his new digs off Moore Square. "I just wanted to come someplace where I could settle down and quiet time. And this was the place for me."

He's starting over in a luxury high-rise downtown with a rooftop pool and 360-degree views of the city. It's a far cry from the supermax prison cells of New York where he spent half his life.

Fleming's new lease on life came in the spring of 2014. A New York judge overturned his 1989 murder conviction after an old phone receipt was discovered -- showing he was with his family at Disney World at the time his alleged victim was shot.

Fleming had always maintained his innocence. And when new prosecutors reviewed old police files, they found evidence that backed up Fleming's alibi.

Fleming walked out of the courthouse a free man with just $93 to his name.

Then last year, New York City agreed to pay him $6.2 million as compensation.

"No amount of money could compensate me for all the time that I did. But it did give me a fresh start," Fleming said.

So from his new home base in Raleigh Fleming is running his own foundation, The Jonathan Fleming Foundation - helping other wrongfully-convicted people to retain attorneys. It also aims to help secure jobs and housing for people recently released from prison.

"I'm going to use this blessing to do the right thing by helping other innocent men get out of prison," Fleming said. "I would like to go to different countries to share my story about what happened to me because what happened to me could happen to someone in your family. It could happen to a lot of different people."

Fleming said he carries no anger about what happened. He's now finishing a new book titled 24-7 - for the 24 years and seven months he spent behind bars

And at the same time, he is writing a whole new chapter of his brand-new life, right here in Raleigh.