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Etan Patz Update: Murder suspect Pedro Hernandez could face trial next spring

Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court with his attorney Harvey Fishbein, Nov. 15, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Louis Lanzano

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - A New York judge says the murder trial for a man accused of killing a 6-year-old boy who vanished in 1979 will likely be held next spring.

PICTURES: Man in custody in Etan Patz disappearance

Pedro Hernandez, a Maple Shade, N.J., resident, appeared briefly in court Wednesday. He was charged with murder in 2011 after he confessed to choking Etan Patz.  He is the little boy was last seen on his way to a Manhattan school bus stop on May 25, 1979.

Hernandez was a clerk at a convenience store near the area where the boy was last seen. The boy's body has never been found.

Hernandez was arrested last year after police got a tip he had told people he had killed a child.

A defense lawyer has said Hernandez is schizophrenic and bipolar and his admission was false.

Complete coverage of the Etan Patz case on Crimesider

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