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Childhood Friend Breaks Down In Tears At Etan Patz Murder Case Retrial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A witness broke down on the stand Monday at the retrial of the man accused of killing 6-year old Etan Patz 37 years ago.

As WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported, Chelsea Altman left the witness in tears over her memories of Etan and the disappearance of her best friend in 1979.

This time, defense attorney Harvey Fishbein hammered away at her for her statements she made years earlier as a teenager.

She told detectives that Etan had said he had met a man named Johnny, who wanted to take him around the world and give him presents and candy.

Altman insists now that she does not remember telling detectives that Johnny was real.

"Now as a 44-year-old person, I believe Johnny was just Etan's imaginary friend," Altman said.

The defense made much of the Johnny statement to suggest that it was a man other than defendant Pedro Hernandez who killed Etan.

Hernandez, who worked in the SoHo neighborhood where Etan lived, confessed in 2012 to killing the boy. But his first trial ended with a hung jury.

His attorneys said he is mentally ill and imagined the incident.

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