David Ranta, who was wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years, suffered a massive heart attack Friday night, less than two days after his release from prison.
Ranta, 58, is now stabilized at a New York hospital cardiac intensive care unit, according to his attorney Pierre Sussman.
“He is presently resting, with his family by his bedside," Sussman said.
Ranta was convicted in 1991 of the murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger during the robbery of a jewelry courier in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He was sentenced to 37 years to life in prison. After a year-long investigation turned up evidence that law enforcement used unlawful techniques during their investigation, he was released from a maximum security state prison near Buffalo.
"I said from the beginning," Ranta said. "I had nothing to do with this case."
“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,” Sussman said.
Ranta's family stood by him in court during his Brooklyn Supreme Court hearing. Some of them were only children the last time he hugged them. His sister Beverely Maccheroni, 56, of Staten Island was excited to get him home. “There are no words, no words. I don’t know how he would start over,” said Maccheroni. “I’m hoping he comes and stays with me for a while, because I have the biggest house where everybody can come and stay.”
He was spending a lot of time with his family since the release. Maccheroni said he got his first “real meal” in decades on Friday and he was adjusting to life on the outside. “He had steak. A manly meal. Steak — and probably everything else on the menu,” she said.
Later in the day Ranta felt sick, and family took him to the hospital. He is being kept there for further procedures after doctors attempt to clear blockages from his arteries.
“We will continue to ensure that David receives the required, ongoing medical attention he needs,” Sussman said.
Ranta is reportedly thankful for all the well-wishes he received after hospitalization. The family is withholding the name of the hospital in the interest of privacy.