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2 Witnesses Testify Etan Patz Murder Suspect Claimed He Killed Someone

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Two witnesses have testified that a man charged in the 1979 kidnapping and murder of Etan Patz told them decades ago that he had killed someone while working in a bodega in New York City.

Testimony resumed Monday in the trial of Pedro Hernandez.

Mark Pike, a friend of the defendant, said Hernandez moved back to New Jersey after working with his family at a bodega in SoHo. He said Hernandez told him a boy threw a ball at his throat, so he strangled him, CBS2 reported.

Testimony Resumes In Etan Patz Murder Trial

Hernandez's ex-wife, Daisy Rivera, then took the stand and said it was in 1982 when Hernandez told her he had killed someone and thrown the body in a dumpster, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported.

Rivera said she later found a shoebox of her husband's belongings that contained a piece of Etan's "missing" poster, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported. She said Hernandez told her he knew the family because they lived near the bodega where he worked.

She said she didn't put it together until spring 2012 when police came to her door and later showed her the same missing poster.

"I'll never forget that face," she said, crying.

Etan disappeared while walking to his school bus stop in SoHo on May 25, 1979. He was never found, but was legally declared dead as the investigation spanned decades.

Testimony Resumes In Etan Patz Murder Trial

Hernandez emerged as a suspect in 2012 based on a tip and a videotaped confession that prosecutors say was foreshadowed by remarks he made to friends and relatives in the 1980s.

The jury also heard from Hernandez's brother-in-law, Jose Lopez, the man who turned him in to police in 2012, CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported.

Lopez admitted he only heard the confessions from members of his church group, and never Hernandez himself.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said the varying stories only prove his client's mental illness.

In Hernandez's videotaped, hourslong confessions, he says he offered Etan a soda to entice him into the basement of the bodega where he worked.

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

"Something just took over me and I was just choking him," said Hernandez, 54, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, in the confession. "He just kind of stood there, and I just felt bad, what I did."

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 jury is scheduled to hear the confession Tuesday.

Hernandez's lawyers also plan to point to longtime suspect Jose Ramos, a Pennsylvania prisoner who dated a woman who sometimes cared for Etan.

Authorities said Ramos made incriminating statements when questioned about Etan in the 1980s, though he never confessed to killing the boy.

Ramos has denied it, but a civil court found him liable for Etan's death in 2004 after Ramos stopped cooperating with questioning.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping.

(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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