Suspect’s daughter testifies at murder trial in 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz

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Capture

Pedro Hernadez is accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979.

NEW YORK (AP) — The 25-year-old daughter of a man on trial for murder in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz is testifying on his behalf.

Becky Hernandez says the stress of her father’s arrest prevented her from getting a master’s degree. Monday is the first time the woman has spoken publicly about the charges against her father.

She testified her father was very strict. She wasn’t allowed out with friends, and he held her hand crossing the street until she was 14.

She also talked of her father’s habit of screaming in his sleep and testified that the defendant would see things — like a bald-headed man trying to steal the family’s car or a woman in white with long blond hair — that his daughter and wife would not see.

Pedro Hernandez confessed in 2012 to choking 6-year-old Patz in the basement of a convenience store where he worked.

The boy went missing on his way to school on May 25, 1979. His body was never found.

Hernandez’s attorneys say the confession is the fictional raving of a mentally ill man.

PIX11’s Melissa Hunt contributed to this report.