NEW YORK (AP) — In some versions of a story Nov. 14 about an indictment in the death of a New York City boy in 1979, The Associated Press misspelled the name of the suspect's attorney. He is Harvey Fishbein, not Harvey Feinstein.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Suspect indicted in '79 death of NYC boy Etan Patz
Suspect indicted in 1979 kidnapping, death of 6-year-old NYC boy Etan Patz
By JENNIFER PELTZ and TOM HAYS
NEW YORK (AP) — A man authorities say confessed to the infamous 1979 disappearance of a 6-year-old boy from his New York City neighborhood has been formally charged with murder and kidnapping, a major milestone in a case that has stymied investigators and Etan Patz's devoted family for decades.
The indictment against Pedro Hernandez, 51, of Maple Shade, N.J., was made public Wednesday and sets up a potential showdown at trial over whether prosecutors can convince a jury that his claim that he strangled the boy — a secret kept for more than 30 years — is credible.
The suspect's attorney has argued that Hernandez, who is due Thursday in state court in Manhattan on second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping charges, is mentally ill and prone to hallucinations, and that his confession can't be trusted.
"Nothing that occurs in the course of this trial will answer what actually happened to Etan Patz," defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said in a statement. "The indictment is based solely on statements allegedly made by my client, who has, in the past, been repeatedly diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia."
Prosecutors countered that an exhaustive post-arrest investigation found enough evidence to seek an indictment and proceed to trial.
"We believe the evidence that Mr. Hernandez killed Etan Patz to be credible and persuasive, and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness," said Erin M. Duggan, spokeswoman for District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Etan's disappearance led to an intensive search and spawned a movement to publicize cases of missing children. His photo was among the first put on milk cartons, and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children's Day.
The boy's body has never been found. Etan's parents, Stan and Julie Patz, have been reluctant to move or even change their phone number in case their son tried to reach out.
Etan was declared legally dead by his father more than a decade ago so he could sue convicted child molester Jose Ramos in the boy's death. Ramos was found responsible, but it's unclear how that finding could now factor into the prosecution of Hernandez.