It may sound incredible but a US man, Jonathan Fleming was only just freed after serving 25 years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit.
Fleming was in Florida at the time the murder was committed in New York, and video evidence shows him in Walt Disney World in Florida (1,700km away) with his family on the day of the murder.
After maintaining his innocence and lodging countless appeals, he has finally been acquitted due to evidence that should have been there all along.
During a recent review of the case, lawyers found that the prosecutors did not provide the defence with a hotel receipt that would have strengthened his case.
The receipt which was processed just five hours before the murder took place was never a part of trial evidence.
If produced, it strongly supported his story and demonstrates how unlikely it would have been for Fleming to be in New York just hours later in time to commit the murder.
It was found in Fleming’s pocket at the time of his arrest and evidently kept ever since.
Fleming had asked about the receipt at the time of the trial but the detective questioned said he did not recall receiving it. It was found in the case file last year.
This obviously raises questions in terms of the behaviour of the prosecution, as the failure to disclose evidence was in contravention of the rules governing evidence.
It also occurred during a time of several questionable convictions under district attorney Charles Hynes.
But perhaps the bigger question is, what was Fleming’s defence team doing at this time?
Thorough preparation is essential in making sure that evidence crucial to each case is produced and used properly.
That your lawyer will be going to trial thoroughly prepared and armed with all the evidence relevant to the case should be an automatic expectation, let alone crucial evidence that could prove to be decisive.
Needless to say, a criminal defence lawyer should never let this happen.
Lawyers should never accept or continue working on a case if they are not, or are no longer able to render competent legal services.
Good criminal lawyers will work to get the best result, including getting charges withdrawn before your case even goes to trial.
Where there is insufficient evidence against the accused, their lawyer should write to the prosecution asking them to drop the case, so you won’t even have to face a hearing or jury trial.
This will save you from the stress of having to give evidence in court, not to mention time and expense.
Prosecutors who refuse to drop a case despite a lack of evidence and fail to prove their charges before a magistrate may even be required to pay your costs.
Exonerating evidence should not be left to be discovered after twenty five years in jail!
If you are facing charges, you should feel confident that your case is in the hands of experienced and professional lawyers who know what they are doing.
As astonishing as it seems, failure to include a key piece of evidence at trial, as seen in the case of Jonathan Fleming, can have drastic and unforgivable consequences.
Click here to read Mr Fleming’s full story.