David Ranta was released from prison Thursday after serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit. On Friday however, his first full day of freedom, he suffered a serious heart attack and had to be rushed to an area hospital where he now waits to undergo several procedures that will hopefully clear blockages from his arteries.
Ranta, who was convicted in the 1990 killing of a Brooklyn Rabbi, told reporters on his release that "I'm overwhelmed. Right now, I feel like I'm under water, swimming."
His lawyer, Pierre Sussman, told the Daily News that, "The accumulated trauma of being falsely convicted and incarcerated for 23 years, coupled with the intense emotions experienced surrounding his release, has had a profound impact on his health."
His sister reported that his first meal after being freed was a steak ("and probably everything else on the menu"), and that he began feeling ill shortly after.
Ranta was sentenced to 37 years to life after being found guilty of shooting Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in the head during a failed jewelry robbery. No physical evidence tied Ranta to the crime, but he was convicted anyway. A then 13-year-old witness later admitted that they had been coached by a detective to identify Ranta as the shooter. The detective told the witness to "pick the guy with the big nose" out of the lineup.