Tonight on AC360: Wrongly convicted man free after 23 years
Courtesy Brooklyn DA's Office
March 21st, 2013
06:50 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Wrongly convicted man free after 23 years

A New York man wrongly convicted of killing a rabbi is out of prison tonight after spending more than two decades behind bars. The case against David Ranta, now 58, crumbled after several people recanted their testimony.

This includes witness Menachem Lieberman, who was 13 at the time and says a detective told him to “pick the guy with the big nose” out of the police lineup. He did what he was told to do, not understanding at the time it was a set up.

Anderson talks with Lieberman tonight on 360 in his first television interview about his role in the case. He says he realized when he got older that his testimony contributed to a fabricated story about the incident, and he wanted to “get it off his chest.”

This miscarriage of justice centers on the 1990 murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, a leader in the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Werzberger, a Holocaust survivor, was shot to death after the gunman botched the robbery of a diamond courier. The rabbi was getting into his car when the gunman shot him to death in a carjacking, tossing his body onto the street.

The rabbi’s Hasidic community was outraged at his murder and demanded justice. Police eventually arrested Ranta and when they did members of the Hasidic community surrounded the car carrying him to prison, chanting “Death penalty!”

Though no physical evidence tied Ranta to the scene of the crime, he was convicted of the rabbi’s murder in May 1991 on what prosecutors now admit was bogus testimony. Ranta was sentenced to 37.5 years in prison.

Tonight he’s a free man. If you’re wondering who prosecutors now believe pulled the trigger killing the rabbi, we’ll have the answer for you at 8 and 10 p.m. ET. Plus, Anderson’s exclusive interview with one of the witnesses who recanted his testimony.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Judy

    I too was convicted of a crime I did not commit. I spent 6 months in jail. Three police officers lied on the witness stand. They formed a Blue Line. I use to believe in capital punishment, but I no longer do and believe it should be abolished because detectives and police officers because they can. God saved this man. Our judicial system is very flawed. I am so glad for this man but his life and mine will never be the same.

    March 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  2. Patrick

    Justice delayed is justice denied. A universal truth. Ranta's story is an extremely sad & unfortunate story. Lessons learned for many. The judicial system & law enforcement should earn from the mistakes; not repeat them.

    March 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

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