Part II – Problems encountered when investigating a 24 year old case
The Management Resources investigating team Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin started our investigation into the Wrongful Conviction of Jonathan Fleming in April 2013. As our investigation progressed we learned that several potential witnesses were now deceased. Those who weren’t were very reluctant to speak with us due to the way they had been treated by the police and District Attorney’s Office. We also discovered that some of the physical characteristics of the crime scene had changed over the years.
Our examination of the original crime scene revealed:
- The exterior lighting of the courtyards had been upgraded to more high efficient lighting.
- The original chain link fences had been removed and replaced with wrought iron fencing.
- The playground in the middle of the courtyard had been replaced with a new one.
- Grass and gardens now replaced the old landscape that was strewn with broken liquor bottles and used dirty syringes.
Witness testimony, or not?
We measured the distance from where the victim was shot to the building where the “eye witness” was looking out the second floor window. The distance between the two locations was 427’. According to the trial testimony of the “eye witness” she saw the shooting take place and was able to recognize our client even though it was 2 am, she was smoking crack all day and she was not wearing her glasses. These were just some of the obstacles faced when investigating a case that is 24 years old.
We next turned our attention to locating and interviewing the witnesses, those who testified at the trial as well as those who were never spoken to by the police. Two witnesses who had previously provided written statements to the original defense attorney were deceased. The three witnesses who testified at the trial had moved and a fourth witness who was supposed to testify for the prosecution, but, at the last minute did not testify, also moved.
We began to look for these people using their names and last known addresses as our starting point. We discovered that one witness had moved to upstate New York, one had moved to Puerto Rico, another had moved down south, one was still living in New York City and yet another seemed to be “in the wind” as we did not have any current valid address for him.
Utilizing our professional network of private investigators we were able to contact investigators to assist us. We contracted with PI Keith J. Christiansen in upstate New York to interview our witness there.
Investigator Christiansen obtained a statement from that witness who told him she was paid by the police in exchange for her statement. She would later tell the DA that the police helped her write the statement by telling her what to say and how to write it. She stated that at the time she was addicted to crack and would do or say anything to get it.
We also contracted with PI Francisco Fernandez owner of Covert Intelligence, LLC in Puerto Rico to obtain a statement from the witness living there. That witness stated that she did not witness the homicide, but was standing on the street after it had occurred. The police came up to her, handcuffed her and took her to the precinct. She said the police were trying to get her to say she saw our client at the crime scene. She refused to say that because it wasn’t true. The witness was held at the precinct for 7 hours before she was allowed to go home.
We next interviewed the “eye witness” in New York who maintained her original story that she made a deal with the police to testify against our client to get the charges against her dropped for a felony arrest she had been picked up on. We continued to press on to locate the witness living down south as well as other previously unknown witnesses.
This is a multi-part series as we are diligently working to secure freedom for Jonathan Fleming. We hope you will subscribe to this blog at the right of the page to receive updates in your email and follow the case details.
~Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin