Family Of Etan Patz Angry, Disappointed Over Mistrial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) —  On the 18th day of deliberations, a judge declared a mistrial in the Etan Patz trial.

Jurors told the judge for a third time they could not reach a unanimous verdict against Pedro Hernandez, the man accused of kidnapping and killing Patz in 1979. Eleven jurors agreed that Hernandez was guilty, but one juror — Adam Sirois — held out and concluded that he was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Ultimately, I couldn’t find enough evidence that wasn’t circumstantial to convict,” said Sirois, who was juror number 11. “For me, his confession was very bizarre. No matter how many times it happened, it got more and more bizarre. And I feel that the initial confession, there were lots of issues surrounding custody; surrounding Miranda rights.”

But the forewoman of the jury, Aliaa Daahan, did not agree, and was angry at how the trial ended.

“Pedro Hernandez, you know what you did,” she said while pointing at Hernandez as she left the courtroom.

Jurors said there was no fighting or screaming during the deliberations, but it was an intense process. Some other jurors were not happy that one of their fellow panelists held out.

“To me, the evidence all pointed one way, and so I can only attribute his decision to hold out – ego,” one woman on the jury said.

Only CBS2 cameras were there as the jurors met at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel late Friday. They hugged and said their goodbyes – but Sirois was not there, and CBS2 is told he was not even invited.

Jurors spent 18 days and more than 100 hours discussing the case. Their first vote on April 15 was 8-4 in favor of a guilty verdict, and each subsequent vote brought more into the guilty column.

But one juror refused to budge to the end.

The judge thanked the jury Friday before dismissing them Friday.

A new court date has been set for June 10. This is when the state will file necessary motions.

Prosecutors are expected to retry the case, though they have not confirmed that they will do so for sure.

“We believe there is clear and corroborated evidence of the defendant’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. “The challenges in this case were exacerbated by the passage of time, but they should not, and did not, deter us.”

Forewoman Daahan said she expects Hernandez will eventually be convicted.

“Nothing’s impossible,” Daahan said. “They’ll get him next time.”

But defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said Hernandez is innocent and prosecutors have had the wrong man from day one.

“I’m sure the City of New York is interested in a resolution of this case. I would say there’s only resolution if the correct man is held responsible, and we firmly believe that Pedro Hernandez is not the right man,” he said.

A retrial date is to be determined, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

Hernandez will remain locked up while the retrial process moves forward. When the jury left Friday, Hernandez turned to attorney Fishbein and asked, “Does this mean I don’t have to come back to court on Monday?”

Jurors were considering the case against Hernandez, 54, who has confessed to killing the 6-year-old boy in SoHo some 36 years ago. He said he lured Patz into a bodega basement and strangled him.

Patz’s family is angry and disappointed that the jury could not reach a verdict.

“This man did it,” said Patz’s father Stan. “How many times does a man have to confess before you believe him?”

Stan Patz said he had no doubt whatsoever that Hernandez was guilty, and he could not understand why the jury was unable to agree.

“A number of family members outside New York City have followed the trial very closely. We have analyzed all the testimony, debated the merits of the various witnesses, and have come to the conclusion that Pedro Hernandez is guilty of the crimes he has committed beyond any reasonable doubt,” Stan Patz said.

At trial, a defense witness testified that convicted pedophile Jose Ramos admitted to him that he molested the boy. Ramos was never charged in Etan’s disappearance, but he was considered the prime suspect for decades.

Patz acknowledged that Ramos had once been the prime suspect, and “everybody started on the Ramos side. But the evidence against Ramos had only been rooted in suspicion and conjecture, he said.

“On the other hand, Pedro Hernandez’s story is simple. It makes sense. The timing is right. Everything worked, and that’s why I believe in that case,” he said.

Patz said he had asked the District Attorney’s office to convince him that Hernandez was guilty. He said the assistant DA involved in the case told Patz she could not do that, given that he might have to testify at trial.

“But she felt the Patz family would finally know what happened to little Etan. That’s why I attended court every day, and that’s why I am so convinced that Pedro Hernandez kidnapped and killed my son on May 25, 1979,” Patz said. “He is a guilty man.”

Patz said Hernandez may be a different person at the age of 54 than he was 36 years ago, but he should still be held accountable.

“When he was 18 years old, he did something terrible, and he should pay for that. I understand his family wants him back,” he said. “He’s a different man – maybe he’s a good man now. But he did something impulsive and terrible and I think he should pay for it.”

He said he is more knowledgeable than the jury about the case.

“Maybe I know a little bit more… and even though the jury’s been out 18 days, I’ve had 35 years to think about this,” he said. “I told you, we were committed to the Ramos theory, but this one just makes so much more sense; blows Ramos out of the water.”

Etan would have turned 42 last year.

“Etan was a beautiful, outgoing, friendly, curious little kid. He would have made a great adult,” Stan Patz said. “But that’s what got him killed, because he was willing to go with this a**hole downstairs.”

The defense maintains Hernandez made up the story due to mental illness.

The jury could not decide whether Hernandez is guilty or not on three separate charges: second-degree murder, felony murder and kidnapping.

Each of the three charges was punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

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