A New Jersey man charged with murder in the decades-old child disappearance case of Etan Patz will proceed to a trial after a city judge ruled Wednesday that there is enough evidence to move forward. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
Thirty-four years after 6-year-old Etan Patz walked a block and a half to the bus stop and never came home, the man accused in his disappearance is a step closer to trial.
A judge has ruled that there is enough evidence against Pedro Hernandez to move the case forward.
Last year, Hernandez told police he choked Patz, put him in a box and threw it out with the garbage.
"That's not to be totally unexpected, because it would be highly unusual for a court to dismiss a case of this nature at this point," said Harvey Fishbein, Hernandez's attorney. "That doesn't mean that we don't firmly believe the district attorney's office shouldn't have brought this case in the first place. But having said that, we're prepared to move forward with the trial and be able to show the people of the city of New York that Pedro Hernandez had nothing to do with whatever happened to Etan Patz back in 1979."
Fishbein said his client's confession is a hallucination from a man who is not mentally sound. He said that Hernandez's constitutional rights had been violated.
"He was in custody for seven or eight hours before he was advised of his right to remain silent. He has a psychiatric condition, and he has a low IQ. All of those are relevant on his knowing waiver of his right to remain silent," Fishbein said. "But again, this isn't a technicality defense. This is, 'I did not do it.'"
In court papers, the prosecution said that prior to May 2012, Hernandez had never been hospitalized for a psychiatric condition, and that Hernandez voluntarily accompanied police to the station and began talking, and kept talking even after he was given his Miranda Rights.
Fishbein said that to his knowledge, other than a "false confession", prosecutors have no evidence against Hernandez.
He told reporters outside court that he thinks investigators should focus instead on Jose Ramos, a man peripherally connected to the Patz family back in 1979.
Ramos is currently serving a sentence in a Pennsylvania prison for sexually molesting boys.
Prosecutors said that portions of Hernandez's confession were videotaped and will prove that it was taken legally.