NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the retrial of the man accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished in SoHo in 1979 as he walked to the bus stop for the first time alone.
The first trial against Pedro Hernandez in May 2015 ended in a hung jury, but the majority of jurors who voted guilty urged the district attorney to retry the case.
Hernandez emerged as a suspect in 2012 based on a tip and a videotaped confession that prosecutors say was foreshadowed by remarks he made to friends and relatives in the 1980s.
In Hernandez’s videotaped, hourslong confessions, he said he offered Etan a soda to entice him into the basement of the SoHo bodega where he worked. He told authorities he then choked Etan, put the body in a bag and a banana box and dumped it about two blocks away.
The defense argued Hernandez has low intelligence and falsely confessed because of a personality disorder. Prosecutors said the confession was accurate.
“This man did it. He said it. How many times does he have to confess to believe him?” Etan’s father, Stan Patz said. “Etan was a beautiful, outgoing, friendly, curious little kid. He would have made a great adult. That’s what got him killed.”
The second trial will be led by veteran Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joel Seidemann, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported. Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein will once again stand next to his client, Hernandez.
“For me, (Hernandez’s) confession was very bizarre – no matter how many times it happened,” Fishbein said previously.
Both sides declined a request for comment.
Because of the case’s high-profile nature hundreds are expected to be surveyed and then interviewed before 12 are chosen for the new trial. The presiding judge said familiarity with the famous case won’t disqualify potential jurors.
Jury selection is expected to take weeks, and the trial process is expected to last through mid-January.
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