- Pedro Hernandez, 56, was found guilty Tuesday in the kidnapping and murder of Etan Patz in 1979. "I'm really grateful that this jury finally came back with which I have known for a long time - that this man, Pedro Hernandez, is guilty of doing something really awful so many years ago". The verdict even spurred tears from some pro-conviction jurors from the first trial, who had attended the second one.
Etan Patz vanished after leaving his parents' home in Manhattan to walk alone for the first time to the school bus stop on May 25, 1979. He was one of the first children to appear on the side of a milk carton.
In 1983 then-President Ronald Reagan declared 25 May National Missing Children's Day.
The case shook New York City like no other disappearing child's case of its time.
Confessing to the murder and kidnapping of Etan in 2012 after the case made national news again when federal agents dug up a New York City basement looking for Etan's remains, Pedro was put on trial.
He also signed one of the "missing" posters, confirming for investigators that Etan was the boy he attacked. Police arrested Hernandez soon after.
Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court in NY on November 15, 2012.
"I am truly relieved, and I'll tell you, it's about time". "We believe that this is the individual responsible".
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They, instead, tried to convince jurors that Hernandez was indeed telling the truth, though they acknowledged that the details of his confessions did not always match up.
An earlier prosecution ended in mistrial after jurors could not agree after 18 days; all but one wanted to convict.
The holdout? Forty-two-year-old Adam Sirois. Hernandez said he then put the boy in a plastic bag, placed the bag into a box and left it by the garbage, saying he believed the child was still alive.
For Sirois, Hernandez's mental health was a "huge" factor in his decision. He later recanted, and his attorneys argued the confession was the product of mental illness, including hallucinations, and coercion by the police.
They said he was susceptible to being influenced by police investigators due to his low IQ.
Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein argued in his summation that the real killer is convicted and now imprisoned child molester Jose Ramos, 73, who was a longtime suspect in the case.
Now, after a second trial in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan that has spanned almost three months, and jury deliberations that lasted about two weeks, the decades-old case that has mystified the city is drawing to a close.
Indeed, legal experts have pointed out problems with confessions from the mentally ill. In addition, they may not understand their rights and, therefore, are less likely to request legal representation, according to the advocacy group.