Mistrial declared in 1979 murder case of missing New York boy Etan Patz | News | DW | 09.05.2015
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Mistrial declared in 1979 murder case of missing New York boy Etan Patz

Following more than two weeks of deliberation, the judge in the murder trial of six-year-old Etan Patz has been forced to declare a mistrial, after the jury said it was "hopelessly deadlocked." Etan went missing in 1979.

After 18 days of deliberation, a hung jury has prompted the presiding judge in the Etan Patz murder case to declare a mistrial on Friday. The jurors declared for the third time that they were hopelessly deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting the accused Pedro Hernandez, who did not visibly react to their announcement.

Etan disappeared in Manhattan on May 25, 1979, while walking to school. The case ushered in a new era of hyper vigilant parenting and advances in law enforcement, making it easier to track missing children and to communicate between responsible agencies.

Hernandez, who has been in custody since 2012, was a teenage store clerk near where Etan lived at the time the boy vanished. He initially confessed to the crime, only to recant his statement later. His defense lawyer argued that his confession was coerced and that Hernandez had "borderline-to-mild mental retardation."

The dissenting juror said he was persuaded by arguments of the suspect's poor mental health and his "very bizarre" confession.

Patz's father (pictured above) was "frustrated and very disappointed" that the jury could not come to a decision. Stan Patz, who has said he is confident of Hernandez's guilt, said that he was sure the prosecutors would call for a retrial.

New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he believed that there is "clear and corroborated evidence of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

"The challenges in this case were exacerbated by the passage of time, but they should not, and did not, deter us," he added.

es/jr (AP, AFP)

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