Two decades after David Ranta was convicted of murdering a Hasidic rabbi during a botched robbery, prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., uncovered evidence that a retired homicide detective had pressured witnesses to testify against him. Ranta was exonerated and released last year.

His case was among a record 87 exonerations during 2013, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. More broadly, the case represented a trend toward increased scrutiny by police and prosecutors of old case files for wrongful convictions.

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