Former Bradenton officer charged with murder refuses to appear in court

ejohnson@bradenton.comNovember 16, 2012 

The former Bradenton police officer charged in the October slaying of his wife refused to appear for arraignment Friday morning in court.

Thomas Fleming, 68, is charged with second-degree murder using a firearm after he allegedly shot his wife Claire, 67, in a bedroom at their home in the 2300 block of 45th Court West.

Fleming's first arraignment, scheduled last month, was postponed. Assistant State Attorney Art Brown previously told the Bradenton Herald the date may have been pushed back to allow time for Fleming to consult with a new attorney.

After a review of his motor vehicle and property records, Fleming's indigent status was denied, which means he will not be represented by a public defender, according to court documents.

Fleming has yet to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty in the case.

Fleming, who served with the Bradenton Police Department from 1967 to 1985 was arrested about 7 p.m. Oct. 1 after heapproached a neighbor and said, "I just shot my wife. I just shot Claire," according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The neighbor immediately called 9-1-1.

When deputies arrived on scene, the victim was discovered with a gunshot wound to her head. Fleming, who was sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck, told deputies they "should just kill him," a report states.

The second-degree murder charge filed by the State Attorney's Office is for actions not premeditated. If convicted, Fleming could face life in prison.

Fleming is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.

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