Imagine that you are vacationing with your family. When you return home, you are arrested on an extremely serious charge: murder.
You’re baffled. There is no way you could have committed this murder. You were on vacation in another state at the time that the crime was committed. But, you trust the justice system. You maintain your innocence, and you assume that you will be rightly freed and that the real killer will be caught.
But it never happens, and you spend the next 24 years behind bars.
Unfortunately, this nightmarish scenario actually happened to a man named Johnathan Fleming, according to CNN.
Fleming was vacationing in Florida when a murder was committed in Brooklyn, New York. He maintained his innocence, stating that he had a receipt for his hotel phone bill in his pocket when he was arrested. But the receipt never made it in front of the jury. And an eyewitness claimed that she saw Fleming commit the murder.
As a result, Fleming was convicted.
Recently, however, justice was finally served after Fleming’s attorneys and the Brooklyn district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit reviewed his case.
The team found the receipt, which had a time and date stamp proving Fleming’s alibi, in the police file. Taylor Kloss, one of Fleming’s attorneys, said, “This is proof of [Fleming’s] alibi that was basically purposefully withheld [from the defense].”
According to Kloss, the prosecution’s witness took back her testimony several weeks after Fleming’s conviction. She said that police persuaded her to testify against Fleming in order to get leniency on a larceny charge.
Because of the efforts of Fleming’s attorneys at the Conviction Review Unit, Fleming’s conviction was overturned, and he was recently freed.
Unfortunately, though Fleming is now free, he lost 24 years of his life. It will be difficult for him to get back on his feet: he has no job and no career prospects. Understandably, his attorneys have stated their intentions to sue the city for his wrongful conviction.
Cases like these highlight the importance of having an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even completely innocent people are convicted of crimes, and it happens far too often. (The Innocence Project, an organization that helps prisoners prove their innocence through DNA testing, reports that there have been 316 convictions overturned because of DNA tests.)
If you’ve been charged with a crime, don’t assume that law enforcement and prosecutors will believe your innocence. Get help from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Greenberg & Greenberg, A Professional Law Corporation at (957) 274-0027 or (951) 397-0003 for the help you need.