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Thread: Retrial Begins in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz

  1. #1

    gavel Retrial Begins in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz

    Painting a picture of a crime that shattered a bygone era's sense of safety, prosecutors on Wednesday opened the retrial of one of the nation's most influential missing-child cases, the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz.
    "It's a cautionary tale, a defining moment, a loss of innocence in this city and every other city where it was talked and written about," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said as opening statements began. "It is Etan who will forever symbolize the loss of that innocence."

    Suspect Pedro Hernandez sat impassively as his retrial opened in a case that eluded investigators for decades, ratcheted up Americans' consciousness of missing children and now centers on whether a chilling confession was true. A jury deadlocked last year.
    With Etan's father and Hernandez's wife and daughter looking on, the trial began as an echo of the haunting story that unfolded over four months last year — so haunting that many of the jurors and alternates from the last trial were in the audience Wednesday to watch.
    Jurors Speak on 'Second Chance' for Conviction in Etan Patz Murder Trial (VIDEO AT LINK ABOVE)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Retrial Begins in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz

    Man Convicted In 1979 Cold Case Disappearance Of Etan Patz

    A New York City father who waited nearly 40 years for justice finally got it.

    Stan Patz's son, Etan, went missing in 1979 as he walked to the school bus stop by himself, 2 blocks from the family's home.

    He was 6 years-old and was never seen again.

    A man named Pedro Hernandez was found guilty of strangling the boy after he allegedly confessed years later in 2012 to luring Etan into the store where he worked at the time.

    His attorney argued he has mental illness and was innocent of the crime.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Retrial Begins in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz

    When the verdicts that Stan Patz waited 38 years for were finally delivered, the SoHo dad could barely speak.

    An emotional Patz gripped the hands of two friends, squeezing them as a Manhattan jury convicted Pedro Hernandez in the kidnapping and murder of his 6-year-old son, Etan.

    He exhaled deeply and silently mouthed a single word of approval: “Yeah.”

    The guilty verdicts against Hernandez, 55, a former bodega worker, were returned Tuesday after nine days of deliberations by the diligent jury.

    “The Patz family has waited a long time, but we finally have found some measure of justice for our wonderful little boy Etan,” said the slain boy’s father, choking up as he thanked the jurors.

    “I’m really grateful that this verdict finally came back with what I have known for a long time, that this man Pedro Hernandez is guilty of doing something really terrible so many years ago.”

    Patz later called his wife, Julie, who was not in Manhattan Supreme Court for the verdicts, to share the news of Hernandez’s conviction in the May 25, 1979, killing of their son as he walked alone to his school bus stop for the first time.

    “She’s crying,” he said.

    It was that kind of bittersweet day in the Manhattan courtroom, where a killer was finally brought to justice in one of the city’s most notorious unsolved killings — a case that resonated nationwide.

    Hernandez’s first trial ended 21 months ago with a hung jury after a single holdout refused to convict the defendant. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. opted to proceed with the second trial.

    But the conviction Tuesday by the jury of eight men and four women might not signal the last chapter of the once-cold case: Etan’s body was never recovered, while the defense immediately vowed to appeal.

    “I hate to say it, but we’re confident we’ll be back here someday,” said defense attorney Harvey Fishbein. “In the end, we don’t believe this will resolve the story of what happened to Etan back in 1979.”

    Several jurors from the first trial returned for the second, including two who flanked Stan Patz and held his hands as the verdict was read.

    “I am truly relieved,” said Patz. “I tell you, it’s about time. It really is about time.”

    Hernandez, mentally ill and with an IQ of 70, showed no reaction as he was convicted of killing the little boy. With no body or eyewitnesses, the bulk of the prosecution case remained Hernandez’s confession to the killing.

    In disturbing detail, the defendant admitted to luring Etan to the bodega where he worked at West Broadway and Prince St. in SoHo.

    The boy’s school bus stop was at the same corner, just two blocks from his home.

    Etan’s cherubic face — with his blond hair and sweet smile — soon became ubiquitous. He was among the first kids to appear on milk cartons in a campaign to find missing children.

    The defense insisted Hernandez’s admissions were coerced during a seven-hour police interrogation, and their client’s admissions were the musings of a deranged man.

    Supporters offered Patz congratulatory hugs and slaps on the back after the verdict.

    “It is my hope that today’s verdict provides the Patz family with the closure they so desperately deserved,” said Vance. “The disappearance of Etan Patz haunted families in New York and across the country for nearly four decades.”

    Hernandez, who was living in New Jersey at the time of his 2012 arrest, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

    Cynthia Cueto was among a number of the first trial’s jurors back in court for the verdict. She was hopeful the new panel would see things the way that the majority of jurors in the initial case did.

    “We felt that we had it right the first time, and we wanted to see it through,” said Cueto. “And we hoped that this jury would do the same, and they did.”

    Asked if she had a message for the second jury, Cueto replied, “We love you!”

    Prosecutors charged Hernandez lured little Etan to his death with a bottle of soda, choking him inside the basement of the SoHo bodega.

    Hernandez placed his body inside a plastic garbage bag. The bag was then put into a cardboard box and dumped with the trash in a Thompson St. alley, officials charged.

    Stan Patz was initially stunned Tuesday with the jury’s acquittal of Hernandez on a charge of intentional murder. He visibly winced and let loose with a low, “Ooooh.”

    “That was a surprise,” he acknowledged. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

    Julie Patz, who testified at both trials, was at home for the verdicts. She typically avoids the media attention around the case.

    The new jury wasn’t the only change for the retrial. Defense attorneys were able to use testimony from the previous trial against witnesses taking the stand for a second time.

    And the Hernandez defense opted to pass on calling three witnesses who could implicate another man with the killing — convicted pedophile Jose Ramos. The child molester once dated a woman who would occasionally walk Etan home from the school, officials said.

    Hernandez’s defense skipped the two jailhouse informants and former federal prosecutor Stuart GraBois — who pursued Ramos for years. Instead, the defense strategy was to attack the reliability of Hernandez's confession and blame Ramos without leaving their witnesses open to cross-examination.

    Jennifer O’Connor, one of the jurors in the first trial, said she was happy to see the second jury give Stan Patz his long-awaited guilty verdict.

    “He’s the kind I want in my boat if the world goes down,” she said of Patz. “So we’re very happy today.”

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