845-331-2047

On February 8, 1990, a gunman attempted to rob a diamond courier in Brooklyn, New York.  However, the robbery attempt was botched and the unharmed courier was able to flee the armed suspect.  To escape capture by law enforcement officers, the suspect needed to flee the area immediately and chose to steal a vehicle to do so.  The suspect approached the car of Brooklyn rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, shot him in the head, left him lying in the street and then drove away in the rabbi’s car.  Tragically, Rabbi Werzberger died.

An unemployed drug addict was arrested for Werzberger’s murder, although there was no physical evidence to link him to the crime.  A jury, based on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, convicted  the man of murder and sentenced him to 37.5 years in prison.

After two decades in prison, the former drug addict, David Ranta, was given his freedom after a witness in the case contacted Ranta’s lawyer in 2011 to explain that he “had uncertainty and discomfort” with his identification of Ranta as the murder suspect in the rabbi’s shooting.  The witness swore to Ranta’s lawyer that he was told by a detective to “pick the one with the big nose” out of the police lineup, which he then did.  The big-nosed man was Ranta.

After a year-long reinvestigation of Ranta’s case, prosecutors informed Justice Miriam Cyrulnik they would support a defense motion to vacate Ranta’s conviction and also asked for a dismissal of his indictment, saying “they no longer had sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Ranta, who had claimed his innocence from the beginning, was freed by Justice Cyrulnik at a Brooklyn courthouse last month.  His conviction was vacated as a “miscarriage of justice.”

“I’m overwhelmed,” Ranta told reporters after being cleared. “As I said in the beginning, I had nothing to do with the case.”

Original story found here.