The New Jersey man who confessed to the 1979 murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz has asked a judge to drop the murder charges against him.
Pedro Hernandez of Burlington County confessed to the murder of the six-year-old, but pleaded not guilty in December.
Etan Patz, disappeared while walking to his bus stop in SoHo, New York City, on May 25, 1979. It was the first day his parents ever let him walk to the bus stop alone. Often cited as the first missing child to appear on a milk carton, the day of his disappearance is now National Missing Children’s Day.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, filed a request Wednesday to have the case dropped. He claims the confession Hernandez gave after seven hours of police questioning is false.
Fishbein said psychiatric exams scored Hernandez’s IQ in the range of borderline-to-mild mental retardation. He also claims his client suffers from schizotypal personality disorder, which can include odd beliefs, eccentric behavior, paranoid ideation, and excessive social anxiety.
Fishbein argues there isn’t enough evidence to support the case. "No evidence or witnesses have been found corroborating any of the few facts,” he wrote.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment. Prosecutors have said they believe there is enough evidence to support the charges.
The judge is not expected to rule in the case until next month.
Hernandez was arrested last year, when police received a tip that he had told police he killed a child in New York City years earlier.
At the time of Etan’s disappearance, 34 years ago, Hernandez worked at a bodega near the boy’s bus stop.
According to police, Hernandez confessed to luring Etan into the basement of the bodega, promising him a soda. Then he choked him, places his body in a bag, and left it out in the open to be picked up by garbage collectors.
Etan’s parents never moved or changed their phone number, in the event that their son ever returned to them. In 2001, his parents got a court order declaring their son dead.