The man charged in the 1979 deadly kidnapping of Etan Patz appeared Wednesday in State Supreme Court, where he entered a not guilty plea for the still unsolved crime. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
In a loud and clear voice, Pedro Hernandez said not guilty to charges he kidnapped and murdered 6-year-old Etan Patz 33 years ago.
"We haven't scene any evidence of death," said defense attorney Harvey Fishbein. "There is no crime scene here. There are no witnesses to a crime."
In May of 1979, Etan Patz left his home on Prince Street in SoHo headed for school. It was his first time walking alone to the bus stop. His parents would never see him again.
In May of this year, investigators said Pedro Hernandez confessed to the murder. He worked at a bodega in the area at the time.
However, his lawyer argues police coerced a confession from a man with mental issues.
"So there is a video tape that will say he did it, he was involved," Fishbein said. "Police took that statement after, and this is in my motion, so I'm free to discuss it at this time, after six, seven hours worth of detention. They took a video statement. And in that statement, there were admissions of being involved with this case, but that doesn't make them true."
In an attempt to get the indictment tossed out, the defense asked the judge to give it permission to look at the grand jury minutes to see what evidence, other than the confession, the prosecution has. The judge is expected to announce his decision in a few weeks.
The defense team for Pedro Hernandez said the Manhattan District Attorney's office should continue to look at other people who might be responsible for the disappearance of Etan.
"Most notable, of course, is Jose Ramos, who's in prison in Pennsylvania, now serving more than 20 years in jail for sexually abusing underaged boys," Fishbein said.
Although he was never criminally charged, a civil court did rule Ramos was response for Etan's death and ordered him to pay the boy's parents $2 million, despite the fact he didn't have that kind of money.
Pedro Hernandez is expected back in court at the end of January.