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Suspect In Etan Patz Murder Case Wants Charges Dropped

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The man who confessed to killing 6-year-old Etan Patz 34 years ago has asked a judge to drop the murder case against him.

An attorney for Pedro Hernandez filed the request Wednesday. Attorney Harvey Fishbein said the confession was false and there is not enough evidence to support it.

Pedro Hernandez pleaded not guilty in December to the murder charge in the death of Etan, who disappeared on his way to a school bus stop on May 25, 1979.

Etan Patz
Etan Patz (credit: Stanley K. Patz/Handout)

Hernandez, of Maple Shade, N.J., was arrested last year after police got a tip. He later told authorities had choked Etan, boxed his limp body and left it with trash.

But Fishbein has said Hernandez is mentally ill. Fishbein says in Tuesday's court papers that Hernandez' confession included questionable claims.

Psychiatric exams of the jailed Hernandez have found that he has an IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range, his lawyer has said.

Hernandez also has been found to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder, which is characterized by hallucinations, according to his lawyer.

Hernandez was working at a SoHo Bodega that once stood near Etan's bus stop when the little boy disappeared.

Etan's disappearance led to an intensive search and spawned a movement to publicize cases of missing children. His photo was among the first put on milk cartons and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children's Day.

The tip that led to Hernandez came after federal authorities dug up a basement in the neighborhood hoping for clues, putting the cold case back into the limelight once again.

Police said Hernandez confessed to killing Etan after luring him into the basement of the Bodega on the promise of a soda.

But prosecutors have said there is sufficient evidence to support the charges against Hernandez.

His parents never moved or changed their phone number in case their son returned. In 2001, they obtained a court order officially declaring their son dead.

Onetime prime suspect Jose Ramos was declared responsible for Etan's death in a civil court in 2004, but the Manhattan DA's office said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him criminally.

Ramos had been dating the boy's baby sitter in 1979. He has denied any involvement in the case.

Fishbein had said the case against Ramos will be a centerpiece of their own defense.

Ramos was released from a Pennsylvania prison last month where he spent more than 20 years for molesting two different children.

Do you think the charges against Hernandez should be dropped? Leave your comments below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 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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