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Manhattan Judge Declares Hung Jury In Etan Patz Murder Trial

May 8, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Manhattan Judge Declares Hung Jury In Etan Patz Murder Trial

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From The New York Post

A Manhattan judge Friday declared a mistrial after jurors, who had been deliberating for more than two weeks on whether Pedro Hernandez was guilty of kidnapping and killing Etan Patz, said they were deadlocked.

It was the third note the jury sent saying they couldn’t reach a verdict but Justice Maxwell Wiley had urged them to keep trying.

“We the jury inform the court that we are unable to reach a unanimous decision,” stated the the note the judge read in court Friday.

“At this point I’ll have to call the deliberations to an end and dismiss them,” he said.

Patz vanished from a SoHo street the first time he walked alone to the school bus stop May 25 1979.

The tragic case galvanized the national missing children’s movement and Patz was one of the first children to appear on a milk carton.

Hernandez, 54, worked as a stocking clerk at the bodega next to the stop on the day the child disappeared but was never a suspect until 2012.

Authorities picked him up after his brother-in-law called in a tip that he’d confessed to killing a child in New York to a prayer group in the summer of 1979.

After a 6 1/2-hour interrogation, Hernandez confessed on videotape to luring the the boy into the bodega basement with a soda, strangling him, stuffing his still-breathing body into a produce box and dumping him in an alleyway less than two blocks away.

“I tried to let go, but my back was shaking and jumping,” Hernandez eerily says on the tape.“I wanted to let him go but something took over me and I squeezed him more and more.”

The 10-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court before Justice Maxwell Wiley presented legal challenges for both sides.

The defense had to contend with a haunting confession they said was coaxed from a mentally ill man with low intelligence.

Prosecutors had to try to persuade jurors of Hernandez’s guilt even though Patz’s body was never found. There were no witnesses who could place Hernandez with Etan on the day he vanished and no forensic evidence.

In closing statements, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon argued that Hernandez’s disturbing confession to authorities wasn’t his first.

He told a church group, his now ex-wife and a former pal he’d once killed a child in New York City but presented divergent details of the crime in each admission.

Although Hernandez offered no motive for the sickening crime, the prosecutor argued that he’d tried to sexually abuse the child.

Illuzzi-Orbon insisted that Hernandez of Maple Shade, N. J. might be eccentric but didn’t suffer from severe mental illness that would lead him to make a false confession.

Hernandez was a “keen” and “cunning” child killer who finally broke down under the pressure of hiding his sinister secret for so long, she said.

“You have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Pedro Hernandez murdered Patz on that morning May 25 1979,” Illuzzi-Orbon told jurors in her closing. “Day after day, he saw this beautiful little boy alone and one day he acted on his impulse and did something terrible to this little boy and for the rest of his life he was waiting to be discovered.”

Defense lawyers Harvey Fishbein and Alice Fontier told jurors that the confession – the heart of the case – is unreliable and inconsistent.

Experts testified that Hernandez suffered from schizotypal personality disorder – a mild version of schizophrenia – and had difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.

Fishbein insisted in his closing that by the time cops finished interrogating Hernandez, they had falsely convinced him of his own guilt.

Fishbein spent nearly a third of the trial arguing that the true killer was convicted pedophile Jose Ramos – not the defendant.

Ramos, 71, had dated Patz’s caretaker around the time the child disappeared.

The depraved drifter, who admitted to abusing numerous young boys, once told a federal prosecutor he was “90 percent sure” he was with Patz the day he disappeared.

Ramos admitted he tried to to have sex with the 6-year-old, but the child refused and he put him on a subway to Washington Heights. He later recanted.

During the trial the defense took every opportunity to conjure up the depraved specter of Ramos, with his wild white hair and sickening past.

Ramos is still in prison for charges related to convictions for abusing two boys in Pennsylvania.

“We did not hear nor can they prove that he’s a child killer,” Fishbein said. “There’s no evidence to support it…you did find out why Etan Patz disappeared but it was not because of Pedro Hernandez. It was because of Jose Ramos.”

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