Sunday, March 31, 2013
DA’s Role In Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger Murder Case Questioned
The problems with the initial case include the fact that there was no physical evidence connecting Ranta to the crime, and that a key eyewitness insisted Ranta was not the culprit. The main witness linking Ranta to both crimes was a crack-addicted jailhouse snitch who received immunity for his crimes and a sweetheart deal on his own numerous pending charges in exchange for his testimony. In addition, the lead detective on the case removed potential suspects from prison and entertained them. Ranta’s confession (which he denied making) was not tape recorded, but transcribed by the detective.
And this includes only what was known to the defense at the time of the trial.
All of this has led some observers to suggest that Hynes’ release of Ranta, without acknowledging any culpability on the part of his own office, was timed to burnish his reputation in what is shaping up to be a potentially tough re-election fight later this year.
According to the prosecution’s narrative, the murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, for which Ranta was wrongly convicted, stemmed from the botched robbery of a jewelry courier, Chaim Weinberger, in the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 1990. Weinberger, held up at gunpoint in his car, managed to get away. Then, according to the prosecution, unable to locate his getaway car, the gunman approached the idling car of Rabbi Werzberger, a chief assistant to the Satmar sect’s then-Grand Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum. The would-be robber fired at Rabbi Werzberger through the car window, opened the door, shoved the rabbi’s body onto the street and drove off in his car. Rabbi Werzberger died from his injuries four days later.
The killing sent shockwaves through the tight-knit Satmar community, where Rabbi Werzberger, a Holocaust survivor, was revered.
Under mounting pressure from the chasidic community to solve the crime, the police worked feverishly, with Satmar power broker Rabbi Leib Glanz acting as a liaison between the police and the Satmar community. Five members of a Southern California family were killed Saturday when their van was rear-ended by an 18-year-old driver who was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.
The dead were among seven family members who were in the van, authorities said. The other two — the 40-year-old female driver and a 15-year-old boy — were hospitalized in critical condition.
Jean Soriano of California was booked into the Clark County Detention Center after he was treated and released at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Loy Hixson said.
Read more at: The jewish week