Strangers Donate $35k for Man Who Was Wrongly Imprisoned for 25 Years

June 27, 2014 - 8:50 AM

Alex Sutaru, a Wall Street banker, heard the amazing story of Jonathan Fleming, a Brooklyn man who was just released after serving 25 years for a 1989 murder in New York City that he didn't commit.

Sutaru was moved by Fleming's positive attitude and lack of resentment - and he decided to help the 52-year old wrongly convicted man he'd never met with an online fundraising campaign.

Fleming was freed because of evidence that had been in his case file all along, but never passed on to his defense attorney, according to the AP. The receipt, and the testimony of hotel staffers at the time, showed that his alibi - that he was in Florida - had been true all along. The woman who testified that she had seen him commit the crime later recanted her testimony.

This is a situation that many people would feel angry at - but rather than feeling resentment, Fleming radiated gratitude that he was free at last.

"I just have to move forward. I'm just so happy to be out and I don't want to live [angry,]" Fleming said.

From ABC News:

"This is somebody that wasn't guilty of a crime; he was wrongfully convicted," Sutaru said. "After the hell he's been through for the past 24 years he came out with a positive attitude and said he wants to live the rest of his life, go to school, be positive and today's the first day of the rest of my life."

Fleming, like most men released from prison, had no home, no job and no money after his release.

"I had about $93 in my account so that's all I was given when I got out of prison, $93," Fleming said. "I'm living from house to house with my cousins."

Within days the crowd-funding campaign had raised almost $35,000 from over 600 people in 14 different countries so that Fleming could get a place to live, food, and back on his feet to look for a job.

"People are good. There is some bad out there but most people are good," Fleming said.

Watch the video to see Fleming and Sutaru's first meeting.

Fleming is suing the city of New York for $162 million for his wrongful imprisonment.