NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The man convicted of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz has been sentenced in one of America’s most notorious missing-child cases.
After two lengthy trials and an already postponed sentencing, Pedro Hernandez’s was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to 25 years to life in prison on charges of murder in the second degree and kidnapping. The sentences will run concurrently, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
The prosecution called today’s ruling a bittersweet end to an ugly chapter in New York City’s history.
Etan’s parents, Stanley and Julie Patz, attended the sentencing and said they will “never forgive” Hernandez for what he did.
“You took our precious child and threw him in the garbage. I will never forgive you, God will never forgive you,” Stanley said as he directly addressed Hernandez in court.
Hernandez didn’t look at them as his fate was sealed.
“A nameless, faceless person for decades,” Stanley later said to reporters after the Tuesday sentencing. “Now I know what evil looks like and he’s convicted.”
Julie Patz was by her husband’s side but declined to speak.
[graphiq id=”iJkFp0B6d4p” title=”Disappearance of Etan Patz” width=”600″ height=”611″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/iJkFp0B6d4p” ]
Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein said Hernandez was reluctant to stand up in court and speak but had two things he wanted him to say: He wanted to express deep sympathies for the Patz family, but he also wanted to make sure it was clear he’s an innocent man and had nothing to do with Etan’s disappearance.
“I’m really grateful that this jury finally came back with what I have known for a long time,” Stanley Patz said at the time. “That this man, Pedro Hernandez, is guilty of doing something really terrible so many years ago.”
Etan disappeared in 1979 as he walked to his school bus stop in downtown Manhattan. He was among the first missing children pictured on milk cartons, and the anniversary of his May 25 disappearance became National Missing Children’s Day.
No trace of him has ever been found.
Hernandez worked at a convenience shop by the bus stop. He wasn’t a suspect until a relative contacted police in 2012, saying Hernandez confessed to killing the little boy to multiple people. The Maple Shade, New Jersey man then confessed to luring Etan into a SoHo bodega where he worked, promising him a soda.
His lawyers have argued that he’s mentally ill and his admissions were false.
They also filed a motion to throw out the conviction, arguing jurors who knew members of the first jury were in the courtroom audience and may have swayed their decision. The judge rejected the motion.
“Unfortunately in the end, we don’t believe this will resolve the story of what happened to Etan,” Fishbein said.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, defense attorneys maintain Hernandez’s innocence, saying he had nothing to do with Etan’s disappearance. They’ve vowed to appeal.
Before Tuesday’s sentencing, the judge pointed out that Hernandez kept a terrible secret for years — one that caused the Patz family great anguish. For them, the weight of not knowing is now lifted.
“I don’t think we ever believed we could come to this point and find out what happened to our child,” Stanley said following the sentencing.
CBS2 reports Hernandez’s wife and daughter were not in court for Tuesday’s sentencing — defense attorneys claimed the ordeal has been too difficult for them to bear.
There was no timeline available Tuesday, for an appeal.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)