Cleared of murder, man starts fresh 24 years later

By Jennifer Peltz Associated Press | 4/24/2014, 1:55 p.m.
The day Jonathan Fleming was cleared of the murder that put him behind bars for almost 25 years, he strode ...
Jonathan Fleming, who was exonerated of murder after almost 25 years behind bars, on his way to get is first bankcard on Friday April 18, 2014 in New York. The weeks since his release have been a mix of emotional highs and practical frustrations. “Coming back, you know, it’s been hard. ... It’s a lot to have to catch up on." Photo by Bebeto Matthews/AP.

One legacy that haunts Fleming is regret over his 33-year-old son in prison, the one he left behind when he was arrested. The Disney World trip had been that son's ninth birthday present.

View galleryJonathan Fleming with his lawyer's son Max

While in a conversation with his lawyer Taylor Koss, left, Jonathan Fleming, center, observes his la …

"Sometimes I feel like I failed him because I really feel if I was out there, I don't think he'd be in prison now," says Fleming, who is planning a visit.

He's also been reconnecting with his other three sons, including one born while he was in prison and a 32-year-old son he didn't know he had until after he was behind bars. Fleming visited him and his family in Pennsylvania.

"They had a cookout," he says. "Made me really feel at home."

Fleming doesn't want to talk about his life before his arrest. He'd had other brushes with the law; prison system records show he had served about a year in an auto-theft case.

What he will say is: "I'm not going to pick up where I left off. It's a new day."

"A New Day" is his working title for a book he started writing in prison and hopes to publish someday. He also wants to go to college, maybe law school, to help other inmates challenge convictions and to advise young people about staying out of trouble.

"I'm excited to move forward," Fleming says. "Because I know God has a plan for me."

Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.