Convicted murderer Thomas Fleming survives suicide try in Manatee jail

December 12, 2013 

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Retired Bradenton Police Capt. Thomas Fleming took the stand Wednesday.James A. Jones Jr./Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- Thomas Fleming, a retired Bradenton police captain who on Wednesday was convicted of murdering his wife, tried to kill himself Thursday morning at the Manatee County jail, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

About 8:10 a.m., Fleming jumped from the second tier of the jail to the floor on the first tier, a drop of about 15 feet. He was taken to a local hospital with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries, according to a news release, and it was not known how long he will be hospitalized.

"Detectives are investigating the incident as an attempted suicide," the sheriff's office.

A jury on Wednesday convicted Fleming, 69, of second-degree murder for the Oct. 1, 2012, shooting death of his wife Claire.

Testifying in his own defense, Fleming told jurors he frequently was suicidal, and on the day he killed his wife, he had intended to kill himself.

Before he shot his wife, Fleming testified he went into the bedroom of the couple's Bradenton home, where his wife was, and pointed a gun at his head. Fleming said his wife encouraged him to shoot himself, which angered him, so he instead shot her to death. He was arrested shortly afterwards.

During his testimony, Fleming said he had suffered from mental health problems for years. The judge, however, blocked the defense from using evidence of his mental condition, because it was not mounting an insanity defense.

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