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

How Do You Spot A Nonconformist? You Can Start With Their Internet Browser

According to Adam Grant, a person's preferred browser is one way to tell whether they accept or reject the defaults in their life. His new book is called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
NPR

After Introducing Changes, Keurig Sales Continue To Fall

Despite America's high coffee consumption, Keurig reported disappointing sales this week. Even during its popular holiday selling period, the numbers haven't perked up in recent years.
NPR

Clinton And Sanders Test New Campaign Tactics Ahead Of New Hampshire

Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. The way they're campaigning in that state ahead of Tuesday's primary tells you something about how they're positioned in the race.
NPR

Super Bowl 50 Tightens Cybersecurity

This year's Super Bowl will be held in the most technologically advanced stadium in the world. FBI special agent John Lightfoot talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about the threat of cyber attacks.

Leave a Comment

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