NEW YORK (PIX11) -- The judge in the Etan Patz case has declared a mistrial after jurors told him they were deadlocked for third time, but the case isn't over yet.
The jury of seven men and five women said on April 30 and again on May 5 that they could not reach a unanimous decision in the case against Pedro Hernandez. But Judge Maxwell Wiley twice invoked an Allen Charge, urging them to keep pushing ahead.
This time, Wiley allowed them to call off deliberations after 18 days.
After the judge's decision, the lone juror who refused to convict told reporters: "For me, his confession was very bizarre. No matter how many times it happened it got more and more bizarre and I think in the initial confession there were lots of issues surrounding custody, surrounding Miranda rights, surrounding the fact that it wasn't video (recorded) for six or seven hours, and I felt like mental health issues were a huge part of this case."
Friday afternoon, the father of the missing boy, Stan Patz, was in court and displayed no emotion as the judge told the jury he is calling off deliberations and granting a defense motion for a mistrial.
"I'm so convinced that Pedro Hernandez kidnapped and killed my son on May 25, 1979," said Patz. "He's a guilty man who's been conscious-stricken due to his deeds and haunted by demons ever since that day."
The judge also told the jury he wants to thank them privately.
The case against Hernandez is not over, however, and the charges he is facing remain in place and he will stay in custody. Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon requested a court date to set a new trial date, the AP reported. That court date was set as June 10, but could change.
Since they first told the judge they were unable to decide in the high-profile case, the jurors requested readbacks of defense and prosecution closing arguments along with related exhibits, an exhaustive and days-long process.
Patz was 6-years-old when he went missing while walking to a bus stop in May 1979, never to be seen again. His smiling face became the first to appear on a milk carton under the screaming text "MISSING." Though his body has never been found, Patz was declared legally dead in 2001.
Hernandez, who was a teenage bodega clerk in Patz's SoHo neighborhood when the child vanished, has been on trial since January in the boy's disappearance. Hernandez admitted to the killing in a four-part videotaped confession, which has since been retracted and is at the heart of the prosecution's case.
Years of searching first led investigators to suspect that Jose Antonio Ramos had something to do with Patz's disappearance. Ramos, a convicted pedophile, was the boyfriend of a babysitter who watched Patz and was the prime suspect in the case -- until 2012.
In the chaotic months after Patz went missing, police spoke then-18-year-old Hernandez and continued scouring the city for the boy.
Decades later in 2012, Hernandez, now in his 50s, again was on investigators’ radar when he confessed to police that he killed the boy. He was arrested in Patz's disappearance and charged with second-degree murder. His trial began in January.
Hernandez gave a videotaped confession, saying he strangled Patz after luring him "with the promise of a soda" to the basement of a grocery store where he worked and where Patz had frequently been a customer.
Prosecutors said Hernandez made incriminating remarks to his friends and relatives in the 1980s, as well. But Hernandez's lawyers called the confession false and said it is the fictional raving of a mentally ill man with a low IQ.
In her closing arguments, Orbon said Patz's disappearance marked the loss of an innocent era but pointed to missing children programs and protocols that emerged as a result.
In a statement, District Attorney Cy Vance said he "would like to thank the Patz family for the courage and determination they have shown over the past 36 years, and particularly throughout this trial."
"The legacy they have built in the four decades since this tragedy occurred, both in raising awareness about the plight of missing children and through the creation of laws to protect them, has made our city, and our society, safer for children.
“I would also like to thank the prosecutors in my Office and our partners in law enforcement for devoting their time, skills, and expertise to one of the city’s most painful and unresolved cases. We believe 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.
“Finally, I would like to recognize the service of the jurors in this case. For more than three months, these men and women interrupted their lives to fulfill one of our society’s most important civic responsibilities, and I am grateful for their sacrifice and attention to this case.”