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New York man cleared of murder after nearly 25 years in prison

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City man who spent nearly 25 years in prison for murder was exonerated Tuesday when a judge found that he had been in Florida on vacation at the time of the crime.

Jonathan Fleming, 51, walked out of Brooklyn Supreme Court a free man after the Kings County District Attorney's Office dropped all charges against him "in the interest of justice."

"He's extremely happy this day finally came but frustrated that he suffered for 25 years for a crime he didn't commit," defense lawyer Taylor Koss said.

Fleming had always maintained his innocence in the 1989 shooting death of his friend Darryl Rush in Brooklyn.

His attorneys said prosecutors rushed to convict him, ignoring evidence including phone bills, photographs, hotel receipts and other evidence that placed him in Florida at the time of the crime.

During his trial, a single witness testified that she had seen Fleming at the crime scene in Brooklyn , but recanted weeks later, his defense attorney said.

Fleming was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison.

After nearly a quarter century of appeals and a review by the Kings County conviction integrity unit, District Attorney Ken Thompson said new and existing evidence cleared Fleming of the crime.

"Based on key alibi facts that place Fleming in Florida at the time of the murder, I have decided to dismiss all charges against him in the interest of justice," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Scott Malone and Richard Chang)

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