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Jailed for 23 years, freed man suffers heart attack a day later

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A man released 23 years after he was wrongly convicted for the 1991 murder of a New York rabbi suffered a heart attack on his second day as a free man, his attorney confirmed to NBC News.

David Ranta was hospitalized after the heart attack, attorney Pierre Sussman said. The man's heart attack was first reported by the New York Times.

“On Friday evening, David Renta suffered a heart attack. My office is happy to report that he’s been stabilized and is being treated in cardiac intensive care at a metropolitan hospital,” Sussman said in a written statement. “He is presently resting, with his family by his bedside. We will continue to ensure that David receives the required, ongoing medical attention he needs.”

Ranta, 58, spent more than two decades in jail after he was found guilty of killing Hasidic rabbi Chaskel Werzberger. A lengthy review of his case ended with prosecutors admitting that the case against Ranta had fallen apart over the years. He was freed at a Brooklyn courthouse on Thursday.

“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 in the statement.

Long-pent emotions welled for relatives when the judge vacated Ranta’s sentence. The man's pregnant daughter, who was two years old when he was jailed, were among those present.

“Sir, you are free to go,” acting state Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik said at the Brooklyn courthouse.

“The evidence no longer establishes the defendant’s guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt,” Assistant District Attorney John O’Mara told Reuters.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Ranta told reporters after being cleared. “Right now, I feel like I’m under water, swimming.”

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