Man walks free after wrongful murder conviction 23 years ago
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.