Suspect faces judge in Etan Patz murder case - New York News

Suspect faces judge in Etan Patz murder case

Posted: Updated:

By COLLEEN LONG | AP 

NEW YORK (AP) — The man charged with killing a 6-year-old New York City boy who was infamously abducted in 1979 pleaded not guilty Wednesday, while his lawyer insisted his confession to police was false.

Pedro Hernandez, 51, wore a gray sweatsuit and answered "not guilty" at the hearing in the case of Etan Patz, whose disappearance helped spawn the movement to publicize cases of missing children.

"My client had no motive and no history," defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said outside court.

"There is a serious question as to what happened in May 1979," Fishbein said. "There is no crime scene. There are no witnesses to a crime."

Fishbein also noted a body was never recovered.

He said that Hernandez confessed falsely after seven hours of questioning by police, and that he is still under medical and psychiatric care.

"My client is not happy that he is in jail," Fishbein said.

Fishbein said he would seek to dismiss the case because the only evidence is his client's false confession. Under state law, a confession can be enough to convict someone as long as authorities can establish a crime occurred and the confession is reliable.

But if the case does go forward, Fishbein said the defense will revolve around his client's mental state, though he isn't pursuing an insanity defense and Hernandez was found mentally fit to stand trial.

An insanity defense would mean acknowledging he committed the crime but arguing that he was too psychologically ill to know it was wrong. Hernandez didn't kill Etan and made a false confession because of his mental problems, among other factors, Fishbein said.

"The only part that mental disease plays in this case is its role in the confession," he said before the court date.

Psychiatric exams of the jailed Hernandez have found that he has an IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range, his lawyer has said. Hernandez also has been found to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder, which is characterized by hallucinations, according to his lawyer.

The defendant's wife and daughter attended the hearing but did not speak to reporters.

Etan's disappearance led to an intensive search and garnered huge publicity. His photo was among the first put on milk cartons, and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children's Day.

Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a convenience store when Etan disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979. Hernandez was a married father with no criminal record and living in Maple Shade, N.J., when police approached him based on a tip this year. The tip came after federal authorities and police dug up a basement in the neighborhood hoping for clues, putting the cold case back into the limelight once again.

Investigators say Hernandez told them he lured the boy into the convenience store with the promise of a soda. According to police, he said he led the child to the basement, choked him and left his body in a bag of trash about a block away.

Etan's parents, Stan and Julie Patz, have been reluctant to move or even change their phone number in case their son tried to reach out. They have not commented.

Etan was declared legally dead by his father more than a decade ago so he could sue convicted child molester Jose Ramos in the boy's death. Ramos was found responsible — a ruling made because he didn't entirely cooperate with questioning during the lawsuit — and Fishbein could seek to make that a factor in Hernandez's defense.

Ramos, now 69, had been dating the boy's baby sitter in 1979 and was the prime suspect for years, but he was never charged. He repeatedly denies having anything to do with Etan's disappearance.

Ramos was later convicted of molesting two different children. He completed a 27-year sentence last month but was immediately arrested upon his release from a Pennsylvania prison, because authorities said he had given them a false address for where he'd be living.

Ramos is currently jailed in Pennsylvania on charges of failing to properly register as a sex offender under Megan's Law immediately after he was released earlier this year from prison.

___

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:30:48 GMT
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:20:19 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Manhattan nursery school's sanitizing machine keeps air clean

    Manhattan nursery school's sanitizing machine keeps air clean

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:47 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:47:17 GMT
    All of us feel the same way about "cooties": Eww. At the Goddard School on the Upper West Side, a high-tech machine is keeping "cooties" out of the classroom. "This is the latest and then most effective sanitization method available today," says Bill Swan, the owner of the Goddard School. He purchased the ZONO Sanitech for his school about six months ago. The machine is the size of a double refrigerator and uses oxygen to kill viruses and bacteria.
    All of us feel the same way about "cooties": Eww. At the Goddard School on the Upper West Side, a high-tech machine is keeping "cooties" out of the classroom. "This is the latest and then most effective sanitization method available today," says Bill Swan, the owner of the Goddard School. He purchased the ZONO Sanitech for his school about six months ago. The machine is the size of a double refrigerator and uses oxygen to kill viruses and bacteria.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:30:48 GMT
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:20:19 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:48:14 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices