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In Etan Patz murder case, jury questions strength of defendant’s confession

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LOWER MANHATTAN — It remains one of the most prominent crimes in New York City history, and now that yet another jury is considering the case of the disappearance and murder of Etan Patz, the mystery surrounding the four decade-old case could get solved.

Then again, it could not.

That’s the irony of the case being heard in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday. Already, a jury failed to decide if defendant Pedro Hernandez, 56, was guilty or innocent. One juror was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of Hernandez’s guilt when the case was first heard in 2015. The judge declared a hung jury and a new trial began last year.

Now, after months of testimony, the seven men and five women of the new jury have begun deliberating. On Thursday, their first full day of deliberations, they sent out three questions that they wanted the judge to answer. All of them pertained to the relevance of a confession that Hernandez made in 2012, in which he said that he had kidnapped and killed Patz 33 years earlier.

Many people remember how Patz, who was 6 years old at the time, disappeared on his way to the school bus stop. Hernandez has said on the record that he lured the boy into a shop where Hernandez was a stock boy at the time, then killed the kindergartener and disposed of the boy’s body in the trash.

However, Hernandez’s attorneys insist that detectives forced a confession from Hernandez, who has a low IQ as well as a mental disorder that causes him to be delusional.

Patz’s body has never been found.

On Thursday, the judge had all three of the jury’s questions answered, then sent them home for the evening. They’ll continue deliberating on Friday, their second full day with the case before them.