Man walks free after wrongful murder conviction 23 years ago

(Credit: Getty Images)
David Ranta, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, walked out of Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday a free man. Credit: Getty Images

A man was released from prison Thursday after he was wrongfully convicted of killing a Brooklyn rabbi more than 20 years ago.

David Ranta, 58, was finally freed after a year-long investigation determined that the case against him had been flawed.

Ranta was convicted in 1991 of shooting Chaskel Werzberger, a Hasidic rabbi, and stealing his car after he unsuccessfully tried to rob a diamond courier in February 1990.

“The evidence no longer establishes the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Assistant District Attorney John O’Mara, chief of the conviction integrity unity of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

The investigation headed by O’Mara found that a key witness, a teenager who said he saw Ranta near the murder site, had not told the truth.

The witness said he did not recognize Ranta but selected him from a lineup after a detective told him to “pick the guy with the big nose.”

A jailhouse informant and his girlfriend also admitted that they made up a story for a favorable plea deal.

Ranta was originally sentenced to 37 years in prison and had lost his previous appeals.



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