(PIX11) -- The arrest and subsequent confession stood to end a 30-year-old investigation into the disappearance, and presumed murder of six-year old Etan Patz.
After all, this was the case that essentially changed the way New Yorkers looked after their children.
But Pedro Hernandez’s taped confession, played publicly for the first time in court Monday, is now being called into question.
His defense attorney say not only were his self-incriminating statements coerced after hours of questioning, but also that his client’s mental incompetence contributed to what he describes as a “false confession."
“He’s been tested over the years three times, and has an IQ of about 70. Remember, he was in custody for about seven-and-a-half hours before they advised him of his rights,” said defense attorney Harvey Fishbein.
And while the SoHo neighborhood where young Etan vanished in 1979 has indeed changed over the years, Hernandez’s statements, made after his 2012 arrest are still chilling.
"I felt like something took over me”, Hernandez told detectives of the moment he lured Etan into the bodega basement, and began strangling him.
Hernandez, who was only 18-years old at the time, then confessed, “Even though he was still alive, I put him in a plastic bag”, before dumping Etan’s body - like a piece of garbage - in a nearby alley.
Defense attorney Dan Hochheiser says the judge’s decision could make or break the prosecutor’s case.
“They have a huge problem, because it’s very difficult to corroborate a confession when you don’t have a body. Obviously there’s no murder weapon in this case. But they can’t compare the body and the trauma to the body to the statements in the confession, which are that he choked the child to death. There’s a real question as to the veracity of this confession, which was obtained after lengthy questioning in New Jersey, and then in New York,” said Hochheiser.AlertMe