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I was at the Court of Appeals today and I saw a remarkable document:  An order from the court on a application for a Writ of Actual Innocence.  Most of these writs go nowhere.  They are quickly dismissed for want of new evidence or some other deficiency.

But this writ is in the case of Diane Fleming. Who?  Some of my readers do know the name.  It is an infamous murder case from right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For Diane Fleming in the Chesterfield women convicted of poisoning her husband, Charles Fleming, with methanol.  Some believe she is innocent and they could be right.  There is an impressive toxicology report that says her husband was not poisoned at all but maybe Charles Fleming’s death was misdiagnosis.  It was circumstantial evidence but the defendant was caught in a lie and maybe destroying evidence (a computer hard drive) so it was suspicious.  But maybe Diane was protecting her son, who was also a potential suspect.  And Virginia juries tend to convict people.

The case is interesting in a macabre sort of way.

First, Diane Fleming was married three times, each to a man with the first name of Charles.  That is a shake my head kind of coincidence.  It was the third Charles, Charles Fleming, that died under mysterious circumstances in Chesterfield in 2000.

Second, there have been at least two “true crime” documentaries about the case – one on the Oxygen Network Snapped(TM) and the other Women Behind Bars.

Third, the medical examiner may be the most famous ME since QuincyDr. Marcella Fierro.  Yes, that one.  For Dr. Fierro once had a fateful interview with a writer named Patricia Cornwell and the rest is history.  For Cornwell’s heroine was Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the chief medical examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and she solves crimes.  (I once in fact, for a relative of Nina’s, bought a Patricia Cornwell novel and got it autographed by Dr. Fierro and Nina’s relative loved it!  It might be worth something perhaps.)  And Dr. Fierro is accomplished at what she does, too.  She’s not going to get too many cases wrong.

The Court has asked the Attorney General’s office to file a response.  It will be interesting to see what happens in this case.  I think I am rooting for Fleming to win – or at least win a new trial.

Is this is a Virginia Right scoop?  I could not find it anywhere else.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Why is this INNOCENT woman still in jail? How much proof do they need?

    • Good question, violet and thanks for coming. I think I am behind on my blogging! (Again!)


      • This case upsets me so much. I see so many wrongfully convicted people in jail on the crime shows I watch and I was very angry, embarrassed and ashamed to see we have one right here in Va. What is wrong with the police and prosecutors? Is it GET THE PERPRETATER or just GET ANYONE to get our stats up? Just like the William Heirens case, the alleged LIPSTICK KILLER. That man was innocent yet he spent like 50 years in jail and died there. It seems it really has become that the defendant has to prove his innocence instead of the prosecution having to prove his GUILT.

    • Hexie says:

      IDIOTS on the jury and SHAMEFUL, IDIOTIC court system. Medieval.

    • India Wilkes says:

      Maybe because she’s not innocent? She’s a textbook architect who was quite happy to throw her own son under the bus. Don’t waste your sympathy on this person.

  2. Ed says:


  3. REE says:

    New trial seems to be in order for this case (soonest).

  4. Kitty Tash says:

    I’m appalled, that this poor woman has spent years in prison, for a murder, that wasn’t a murder!!! What is wrong with a jury, that it took them an hour, to convict an obviously, INNOCENT woman??? Have we as human beings, become so cynical, because of the evilness, that has permeated humanity, that we see anyone accused of murder, must be guilty???? There was NO EVIDENCE, in this case, only an aggressive prosecutor ready to convict someone for murder, even when it wasn’t murder, to get another notch under his/her belt, to promote his/her career, as a prosecutor???? That’s NOT justice, not for the victim & certainly not for the accused, their family, or anyone, BUT, the prosecutor!!! This miscarriage of justice does NOTHING, but give the justice system a black heart & dark mind, to the people who are SUFFERING, as a result, of a rush to judgement, by the ENTIRE law enforcement & the judicial system, in America!!! This woman DESERVES to be let out of prison & the state of Virginia, needs to be held responsible, for this atrocity & miscarriage of justice!!! God, help us all, if this is a glimpse, into future FAILURES, of our justice system!!!

    • violet miller says:

      I was so ashamed to know that MY state keeps an innocent woman in jail. That professor said he put in 400 hours studying why Mr. Fleming died and concluded it was NOT murder. She has no business being in jail. I wish Kathleen Zellner would take her case.

  5. Joe says:

    There’s a documentary called Sweet Misery and in that it’s claimed he drank Gatorade that had been out in the sun and the heat turned the aspartame into methanol.

  6. Sally says:

    I really think that after she destroyed the hard drive and replaced it, she lost a lot of people right there.

  7. Beryl Thomas says:

    Seriously folks if not her then who–her husband certainly didn’t choose this path to death. It’s either her or that rotten who didn’t wish to move out of the house. WHY did she try to hide the hard drive from the computer?

    • violet miller says:

      She did it to protect her son, something I can understand after the last few years of learning about the police putting innocent men in jail. And now look at Diane. That chemist spent FOUR HUNDRED hours on her case and says there was NO methanol. NO dye that is used in glass cleaner. Diane should be free.

      • India Wilkes says:

        400 hours is nothing when it comes to research. I would love for someone to cite ONE proven case of death by aspartame. This sweetener was in use for years and part of the reason for its demonization lies with the efforts of the powerful sugar lobby. The crime literature is rife with cases of antifreeze poisoning. The hard drive data was not detrimental to her son in any way whereas it would have had implications for her guilt. Besides, her history of jumping blithely from man to man is consistent with her ability to dispose of people without a backward glance.

        • j says:

          Your last comment makes me think that if this wlman had only been married once, you’d probably be on her side….good username, by the way. It suits you.

        • selada says:

 has a lot of info regarding aspartame poisoning deaths. It is not at all uncommon,so maybe you should do some research before jumping to conclusions.

    • I do not know Beryl (BTW, thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment!) but the rendition of the case on the Snapped TV show (found at Oxygen channel) made me very concerned.
      about her innocence.


      • violet miller says:

        I firmly believe she is innocent. A bio chemist or something like that spent 400 hours on her case. He said there was NO methanol poisoning and that if windshield wiper fluid had been in his gatorade they would have detected blue dye, which they did NOT. She erased the hard drive because her son was into weird stuff like a lot of teenagers are and she didn’t want him made a suspect because of it. This chemist said it was a combination of a lot of chemicals that killed him, including the creatine he was taking. Who in their right mind would show the police the Gatorade and everything else trying to be helpful if she did that? NO ONE! People can be so dumb and believe anything. It’s disgusting. I live in Va and I am ashamed of my state right now.

        • I think the issue is that Virginia juries tend to convict people too often. I do not know if Fleming is innocent but there are disturbing questions. And Harward was found to be innocent by forensic evidence. I am not ashamed of the Commonwealth but rather seek to make it a better place to live and work. Thank you violet for coming by and reading/commenting on my blog post. Come back again often.

    • T. says:

      Simple, because she didn’t want to get caught.

  8. Dolores

    My preys fo Diane Fleming. I think from the bottom of my heart that she is a good woman . I hope she got a new trial and be free.

  9. Diane Fleming says:

    Mr. Sanders,
    Thanks for your comments. Just so you know, I was released on Geriatric Parole January 26th. It’s not an exoneration yet, but my Absolute Pardon petition, filed last May, is now waiting on our current governor.
    I wanted you to know the latest and that I’m doing very well. Thanks for your interest.

    • Sandy Sanders

      Diane: I owe you a huge apology for not getting back with you. But I am glad you are released. I was just reading a fascinating article about how bad forensics can cause innocent people to be convicted and only two states allow new discoveries about forensic science to be used as newly discovered evidence for a new trial.

      Great to hear from you. Feel free to keep in touch.


    • A roommate

      Has anyone considered his sister Theresa Fleming in this matter? She is Kathy Bates ! This woman is capable of anything getting in her way. Chuck was the golden child, she was always jealous. Ask her two x husbands.sometimes we overlook the obvious.

      • Al

        I’m in a room there for five years I was privy to a lot of information I’ve never seen anyone so happy when her dad blew up fixing a lawnmower she was dancing down the halls and seeing him she had no remorse whatsoever and it seems awfully strange man who worked on small engines all of his life for over 40 years to have one blowup on him then her real mother died just within a month or so after her dad she never shed a tear there either so I’ve got some things I could tell you if you will call me and my number is 804-869-6275 my name is Al

  10. A roommate

    Has anyone considered his sister Theresa Fleming in this matter? She is Kathy Bates ! This woman is capable of anything getting in her way. Chuck was the golden child, she was always jealous. Ask her two x husbands.sometimes we overlook the obvious.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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