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Man Testifies That Etan Patz Murder Defendant Confessed To Him In 1979

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A man testified Tuesday that the man accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz 37 years ago confessed the murder to him shortly afterward.

As WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported, Ramon Rodriguez told the jury that God speaks to him every day, usually in Spanish.

He testified that it was during a charismatic church retreat in New Jersey in the summer of 1979 that God told him Pedro Hernandez had something to confess. He said he took a walk with Hernandez – about 18 years old at the time – and testified that Hernandez told him he had killed a boy in New York.

Rodriguez testified that Hernandez said had abused the boy, had struck him with a stick many times, and thrown his body in the garbage once he knew the boy was dead.

At that point, Rodriguez said he sent Hernandez to talk to the leader of the retreat so he would have peace.

"Remember?" he asked, turning directly to Rodriguez in court.

Rodriguez said he never told the authorities about the conversation until detectives knocked on his door in Puerto Rico many years later.

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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