Murder of Christian Prince

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Christian Prince
Born Christian Haley Prince
(1971-07-18)July 18, 1971
Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
Died February 17, 1991(1991-02-17) (aged 19)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death Shooting
Resting place Rock Creek Cemetery
Nationality American

Christian Haley Prince (July 8, 1971 – February 17, 1991) was a Yale University student whose murder in New Haven highlighted racial and class tensions between town and gown.


Prince, the son of Edward and Sally Prince of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was a fourth-generation Yale student, a member of the class of 1993 in his sophomore year, in Pierson College. The evening of February 16, 1991, after having dined at Mory's and attended a party at Sterling-Sheffield-Strathcona Hall, Prince left his friends and began walking to his off-campus apartment on Whitney Avenue to rest for lacrosse practice the next day. Prince was found lying on the steps of St. Mary's Church, New Haven on Hillhouse Avenue, dead of a bullet wound to the heart, at approximately 1:15 am on the morning of February 17. He was the first Yale student killed on campus since the murder of Gary Stein during a robbery near Grove Street Cemetery in 1974.

His death stunned the campus, and more than 1,000 people attended his funeral in Washington, D.C., where Prince's brother Ted, a Yale graduate, gave the eulogy. There was a short term significant decline in applications to Yale which was directly attributed to the murder. Yale's president, Benno Schmidt, resigned the following year after a contentious six-year term filled with myriad problems, including badly deteriorated town-gown relations highlighted by Prince's murder.

After the murder of Christian Prince, university administrators spent millions of dollars on security infrastructure.[1] Emergency phones and improved lighting were installed; the university police department's size was expanded and a new security force was founded.

Arrest and trial[edit]

In May 1991, James Duncan Fleming was arrested for Prince's murder on a tip from one of his friends, Randy Fleming (no relation).

Randy Fleming was questioned by police and gave the following account under oath: He and James wanted money to attend a rap performance and James suggested they "stick up a cracker."[2] James Fleming spotted Prince walking home and demanded his money at gunpoint. Prince handed over his wallet, whereupon James Fleming pistol-whipped him, said "I ought to shoot this cracker", and then fired his gun, fatally wounding Prince. James Fleming then dropped the wallet in his haste to escape.

Randy Fleming also recounted that when the shooting occurred, James Fleming and Christian Prince had been standing on the opposite side of Hillhouse Avenue from where Prince's body was discovered. Prince's wallet was found on the opposite side of the street from Prince's body, consistent with Randy Fleming's account. A medical examiner later testified that Prince could plausibly have lived long enough after being shot to move across the street.

A year later, at James Fleming's trial, Randy Fleming recanted his original statements, claiming that the police had forced him to lie. The jury convicted James Fleming on conspiracy to rob Prince, acquitted him on the charge of first-degree murder, and failed to return a verdict on charges of felony murder and attempted robbery. A second jury acquitted James Fleming on the latter two charges in March 1993, and Fleming was sentenced to nine years in prison.


  1. ^ Leonhardt, David (November 1994). "On, or Off?". Yale Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Nordheimer, Jon (28 June 1992). "Son of Privilege, Son of Pain: Random Death At Yale's Gates". The New York Times. p. 23. Retrieved 20 March 2011.