Man Freed after Two Decades In New York Prison; Doubt Cast On Murder Conviction | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Man Freed after Two Decades In New York Prison; Doubt Cast On Murder Conviction

"Sir, you are free to go."

With those words from a judge in a New York court on Thursday, David Ranta was released from custody after serving 23 years in prison for a killing that authorities now doubt he carried out.

Weeping and surrounded by relatives, Ranta tried to describe his feelings to the media.

"I'm overwhelmed," the 58-year-old told reporters. "I feel like I'm under water, swimming."

The AP reports that, ahead of freeing Ranta, the judge acknowledged the failure of justice in his case:

... Judge Miriam Cyrulnik offered an apology: "To say I'm sorry for what you've endured would be an understatement. ... But I say it anyway."

The New York Times sums up the path to Ranta's release this way:

Mr. Ranta was convicted in 1991 of shooting a Hasidic rabbi, Chaskel Werzberger, in the head following the botched robbery of a jewelry courier. He twice appealed his conviction, and each time prosecutors working for the office of the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, convinced the courts to rule against Mr. Ranta.

No longer. After a yearlong investigation by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the district attorney's office, the prosecutors have joined Mr. Ranta's lawyer, Pierre Sussman, in asking the court to release the prisoner "in the interest of justice." Prosecutors say new evidence creates "a probability that the verdict" in a trial would favor Mr. Ranta.

Despite the government's decision to support Ranta's freedom, not everyone was happy with the news. The BBC reports:

The lead detective in the case, Louis Scarcella, has defended the investigation, saying he never framed anyone.

Relatives of the victim have said they are shocked by the development and still believe Ranta was involved in the crime.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

100 Years Ago, 'New Republic' Helped Define Modern Liberalism

Robert Siegel speaks with The New Republic editor Franklin Foer about the new book Insurrections of the Mind, a collection of seminal essays from the magazine's first 100 years.
NPR

Edible Packaging? Retailers Not Quite Ready To Ditch The Wrapper

To reduce waste, some enterprising companies are trying to roll out products that make the package part of the snack — edible packaging. But selling it to the retail market is trickier than it seems.
WAMU 88.5

Senator's Legislation Would Strip NFL Of Nonprofit Status

The Redskins' refusal to change its name has prompted the legislation from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
NPR

The Kaypro II: An Early Computer With A Writer's Heart

Commentator Andrei Codrescu remembers the first word processor he had — the Kaypro II in the 1980s. Its inventor, Andrew Kay, died Aug. 28, at the age of 95.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.