Jose Ramos, 70, was dating Etan's babysitter when the boy vanished in 1979 and was, for many years, the leading suspect, The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens Voice reported. He has spent much of his life since then in prison for unrelated sexual offenses, and is facing trial in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania for violating registration and reporting requirements after his release.
Etan was 6 when he was last seen. He disappeared while walking to the school bus stop, the first time his parents let him make the trip on his own from their Manhattan apartment.
Pedro Hernandez, who was a clerk in a convenience store in the Patzes' neighborhood in 1979, has been charged with abducting and killing the boy. Hernandez's lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, asked the court in New York to order Ramos to testify.
A Pennsylvania judge ruled Friday that Ramos must appear as a witness.
"Ramos was the boyfriend of the baby sitter and we believe he played a key role. We want to give a jury a chance to see and hear from Ramos," Fishbein told the Citizens Voice in a telephone interview. "We asked for him to be held until trial. We're concerned if Pennsylvania releases him before trial, based on his history, he would disappear and we wouldn't be able to question him."
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