NYC jury reaches verdict in Etan Patz murder case

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NYC jury reaches verdict in Etan Patz murder case

A jury in New York City has found Pedro Hernandez guilty of murder in the kidnapping and death of Etan Patz, who was 6 years old when he went missing in 1979.

The 56-year-old Hernandez was found not guilty on charges of intentional second-degree murder, meaning jurors did not believe he meant to kill Patz. Instead, they relied largely on Hernandez's confession and on statements he had made to others over the years referring to the kidnapping. The judge ordered a retrial following a hung jury in 2015.

Etan was last seen on a Friday in May 1979.

A verdict has been reached in an infamous New York City kidnapping case almost thirty-eight years ago, after a little boy vanished while walking to the school bus.

But he never made it back home. He was one of the first children to appear on the side of a milk carton.

In 1983, then U.S. president Ronald Reagan declared the anniversary of his disappearance National Missing Children's Day.

He also signed one of the "missing" posters, confirming for investigators that Etan was the boy he attacked.

And his disappearance helped tilt parenting to more protectiveness in a nation where many families had felt comfortable letting children play and roam alone.

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Hernandez was a convenience store clerk in Etan's Manhattan neighborhood when the first-grader disappeared in May 1979.

He was initially arrested five years ago, after his brother-in-law called authorities to report his suspicions.

Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court in NY on November 15, 2012. "It's about time", he added, according to the Associated Press. "We believe that this is the individual responsible".

The murder case was already complicated by faded memories, the deaths of witnesses and the fact that no trace of Etan has ever been found.

They, instead, tried to convince jurors that Hernandez was indeed telling the truth, though they acknowledged that the details of his confessions did not always match up. In the first trial, all but one juror had voted for conviction.

The holdout? Forty-two-year-old Adam Sirois.

He was "keenly watching and admiring this handsome friendly child", Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said during summations. "No matter how many times it happened, it got more and more freaky". But his defense said the confession was a fantasy stemming from a mental problem, and argued that the real culprit was a convicted child molester who had a link to Etan's family.

A psychiatrist testified that Hernandez's admission could have been a delusion, Newsday reported. Prosecutors portrayed Hernandez as the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle - a man at the right place at the right time who put the body in a dumpster where it would have been trucked to a landfill before Etan's parents ever knew he was missing, and who left NY and sought forgiveness at a religious retreat within weeks of the disappearance.

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