Strangers raise money for wrongfully convicted man who spent 24 years in prison

150711 strangers raise money

Alex Sutaru, 32, started an online fundraising campaign for Jonathan Fleming, who spent 24 years in jail for a New York murder that happened while he was vacationing hundreds of miles away.

So far, the campaign’s raised more than $40,000 since April 10. More than 600 people in 14 countries have donated to the cause.

“I think people recognize that donating a little they can help this person integrate back into society and build a life for himself that was wrongly taken away from him,” Sutaru told ABC News.

Darryl Rush was shot and killed in Brooklyn in August 1989 while Fleming and his family were on a trip to Disney World. He was wrongfully sentenced to 35 years to life in prison. A newly discovered piece of evidence — a phone receipt proving Fleming was in Florida just hours before the killing — helped set him free three weeks ago.

But after years behind bars, Fleming with released with less than $100 to his name.

“I had about $93 in my account so that’s all I was given when I got out of prison, $93,” Fleming told ABC News. “I’m living from house to house with my cousins.”

That’s where Sutaru’s campaign comes in. The money he has raised will help cover rent and food, while Flemming gets settled into his new life. Sutaru said he was inspired by how Fleming maintained a positive attitude despite his situation.

Fleming, for his part, was appreciative of the support.

“People, you know, I never thought they’d do this for me,” Flemming said.

Story by Meg Wagner

Photo by Joe Marino


Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 6:56 AM



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