The prosecution in the Etan Patz murder retrial rested its case. Now its the defense’s turn before the jury.
Etan Patz was born October 9, 1972, to Jewish parents. He disappeared in SoHo, lower Manhattan, on May 25, 1979. Etan was the first missing child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton.
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After the prosecution rested on Monday, defense attorney’s representing the 55 year old Pedro Hernandez asked the judge to dismiss the murder charges asserting that the prosecutors had failed to prove their case. The judge denied their motion.
The defense called Henry Gruen, a former resident of the SoHo neighborhood where Etan lived when he went missing, to testify that he did not see the boy on the morning of his disappearance. This was intended to show that Etan Patz may have disappeared earlier than the prosecution asserts.
At the same time the defense has used psychiatric testimony to show that Pedro Hernandez is mentally unbalanced. It hopes that this will negate their client’s confession by showing that Hernandez was not in his right mind when he was interrogated by the police. The defense also called Mr. Hernandez’s sister to testify about how brutal their father was to him when Hernandez was a child. It is not clear how this refutes the charges and seems to have only been an attempt to humanize Hernandez in the eyes of the jury.
The case of Etan Patz’s disappearance was reopened in 2010 by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. A self-confessed suspect, Pedro Hernandez, was charged and indicted in 2012 on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping. In 2014, the case went through a series of hearings to determine if Hernandez’s statements before receiving the Miranda warning were legally admissible. His trial began in January 2015.