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Forum Post: now you know why we need the death penalty - we could have saved a fortune keeping this guy in jail

Posted 5 years ago on March 21, 2013, 6:39 p.m. EST by bensdad (8977)
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(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - David Ranta, a man who has been behind bars since 1990 for killing a Brooklyn rabbi, had his conviction vacated with the support of prosecutors and was set free by a judge on Thursday.

Ranta was cleared of his May 1991 second-degree murder conviction in the Feb. 8, 1990 fatal shooting of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, who was shot in the head by a man fleeing a botched robbery.

A recent review by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office cast doubt on witness testimony and concluded detectives had mishandled aspects of the investigation.

The D.A. filed papers on Wednesday asking the judge to dismiss the murder indictment, since they "no longer have sufficient evidence to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

The 58-year-old Ranta had been serving his 37-and-a-half year sentence in a Buffalo prison.



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[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 5 years ago

A review of the case by The New York Times points to two forces leading to Ranta's wrongful imprisonment: an aggressive detective and intense political pressure in favor of a speedy arrest and conviction.

The case finally came undone when Menachem Lieberman, a 13-year-old witness at the time of the trial, disclosed that he was coached by a detective to pick the man with the biggest nose out of a police lineup. Four of the five initial witness lineups had not picked Ranta. A convicted rapist and his girlfriend also confessed to fabricating testimony.

During sentencing in 1991, The Times notes, Ranta said "this is all a total frame setup. ... I hope to God he brings out the truth because a lot of people are going to be ashamed of themselves."

On the eve of his release, Ranta told The Times that after years in a maximum security prison "what's ahead scares me."