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Jury Watches Video Confession In Etan Patz Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Jurors on Tuesday watched the videotaped confession of a man charged in the 1979 kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz.

Detective Anthony Curtin took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty to killing Etan.

Curtin first interviewed Hernandez when he was arrested in 2012. Authorities said he emerged as a suspect in the case when a relative called police with a tip.

Jury Hears Videotaped Confession In Etan Patz Case

During that interview, police said Hernandez confessed to killing Etan, who disappeared while walking to his school bus stop in SoHo on May 25, 1979. Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a bodega a few blocks from where Etan was last seen.

The little boy's body was never found, but he was legally declared dead as the investigation spanned decades.

Jurors watched intently as the confession was played, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported. Their expressions remained impassive.

In Hernandez's videotaped, hourslong confessions, he appears calm and relaxed as he describes the alleged crime to the investigator. Hernandez claims he offered Etan a soda to entice him into the basement of the bodega where he worked.

"I don't know why I came up to him,'' Hernandez says on the video, calmly. "I just approached to him, and I asked him: 'You want a soda?' He didn't say nothing to me, even when I was choking him. He didn't kick. He didn't do nothing. He just kind of stood there, and I just felt bad what I did.''

Then, Hernandez said, he choked the boy and dumped him, still alive, in a box with some curbside trash.

"I was nervous. My legs were jumping. I wanted to let go, but I just couldn't let go. I felt like something just took over me,'' Hernandez said in the video. "I don't know what to say. Something just took over me, and I was just choking him.''

Hernandez said he felt nothing after he killed Etan and went back to work that day.

"My mind was blank," he said in the video. "Like nothing had happened."

Jury Watches Video Confession In Etan Patz Case

He said in the days and weeks that followed when police and detectives swarmed the neighborhood and entered the bodega where he worked, they never spoke to him.

The prosecutor told jurors during opening statements that Hernandez may have sexually abused Etan, but he has not confessed to that, CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported.

Hernandez's attorney Harvey Fishbein called the confession fiction from a mentally ill man.

"It's inconsistent with a lot of the evidence the jury has heard to this point," Fishbein told 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa.

"This is the end product. This is the video that occurs after 20 hours of being in police custody.  We don't see the unrecorded seven hours of interrogation by the police officers the prior day.  And they will see the half hour afterwards which is recorded, which will be very critical," Fishbein told reporters.

Defense lawyers say Hernandez's confession is fiction, dreamed up by a mentally ill man with a low IQ and a history of hallucinations and fueled by more than six hours of police questioning before Hernandez was read his rights.

"The issue is what, in his mind he remembers, at all reliable or accurate," Fishbein said.

In the video, Hernandez also speaks about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and taking medication for pain from an on-the-job injury from working at a dress factory in New Jersey.

Curtin testified that the defendant did not seem delusional or hallucinating during the confession.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, Fishbein asked the jury to re-listen to a section of the interrogation and decide it it is plausible.

"I put the box on my shoulder," Hernandez said during the interview, "I put it on my shoulder. I went up the steps and I walked to the right of Prince Street, like about a block and a half, or two blocks."

But Fishbein said, "It's improbable that my client, who weighed 110 pounds and is 5 foot 3 in 1979 could throw a huge box weighing 50 pounds onto his shoulder."

The confession was played in September during a hearing on whether it could be used at trial. Some personal details about Hernandez's life were removed after his attorney objected.

The clip shown Tuesday is one of three confession videos made after Hernandez was arrested in May 2012.

The trial is expected to last three months, but will break for nine days. The defense will get to continue dissecting the confession video when the trial resumes.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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