Hearing delayed again in Etan Patz case

Sept. 25, 2012 at 7:43 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A court appearance for the man charged in the killing of a young New York boy three decades ago has been put off for a second time, officials say.

Pedro Hernandez, who police say confessed to killing Etan Patz 33 years ago, will next appear in court Nov. 15, The New York Times reported.

The new delay gives prosecutors and defense attorneys more time to iron out issues with the case before it goes to a grand jury.

The body of Patz, who was 6 when he disappeared, has never been found. Police had long suspected another man who is in prison on another charge.

Hernandez, who had never been a suspect, has a history of mental illness. He told police he lured Patz to the basement of his bodega, where he strangled the child. Police dug up the basement and searched Hernandez' home in New Jersey and found no evidence of a homicide.

However, investigators note that Hernandez had confessed the killing to family members several times in the intervening years.

Even with so many blanks still unfilled, police and prosecutors don't seem to be looking anywhere else.

Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said in May his office was conducting a methodical investigation.

Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department, said, "The confessions by a credible suspect, following separate admissions over years to family, friends and church members, made an arrest and prosecution inevitable."

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