Etan Patz Case: Court date of murder suspect Pedro Hernandez postponed to Oct. 1
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Pedro Hernandez, the man charged in the 1979 murder of Etan Patz, was due in court Monday, but prosecutors agreed with his lawyer to postpone the court date for another three months so both sides could gather more information for the trial.
Prosecutors are still investigating and assessing the case against the man charged with murdering Etan, one of the first missing children whose picture ever appeared on a milk carton. The Manhattan district attorney's office said Wednesday that both sides agreed to put off Hernandez's appearance to Oct. 1 "to allow all parties to proceed with their investigations in a measured and fair manner."
Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a nearby convenience store when 6-year-old Etan disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979. It is a date that would later be commemorated as National Missing Children's Day. A judge in 2001 declared him dead but his body was never found.
Detectives said they arrested 51-year-old Hernandez last May after he confessed that he lured Etan into the store with promise of a soda, strangled him in a basement and left his body in some nearby trash. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Hernandez' story was specific enough to make police "believe that this is the individual responsible for the crime."
However, Harvey Fishbein, Hernandez's lawyer, said his client is a bipolar schizophrenic with a history of hallucinations. Through her attorney, Robert Gottlieb, Hernandez' wife said she believes her husband's confession isn't reliable.
Hernandez is now being held without bail in a psychiatric hospital jail ward. A judge last month ordered an evaluation of whether Hernandez was mentally fit for trial. The results aren't yet known.
Since Hernandez's arrest, investigators have interviewed his relatives and friends. Authorities have also searched his home in Maple Shade, N.J. The three-month delay in bringing Hernandez back to court could let prosecutors further evaluate what evidence they can amass to bolster a confession in a 33-year-old case and weigh their chances for conviction at a potential trial.
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