NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Julie Patz, the mother of a 6-year-old boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1979, took the stand Friday to testify in the retrial of her son’s confessed killer.
Patz said she reluctantly let her son, Etan, walk alone to his school bus stop in SoHo for the first time on May 25, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
She last saw him leave for the bus with a dollar in hand, which he planned to use to buy a drink from the bodega near the bus stop, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported. She later learned he was marked absent from school, and he never returned home.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports Patz recalled the day her son didn’t come home from school, and she learned he never made it to P.S. Three.
“Total horror and panic. My legs started going out. Difficulty breathing,” Patz said on the stand.
Pedro Hernandez, who worked in the SoHo neighborhood where Patz lived, confessed to killing the boy in 2012, but his first trial ended with a hung jury. His attorneys said he is mentally ill and imagined the incident.
Hernandez is accused of luring Etan into the basement of a SoHo deli and strangling him.
Patz testified about how trusting Etan was and how afraid he was to be alone or lost.
She said he knew how to cross the street and was worried about other people getting hit by trucks. She said he often posed as a crossing guard to help others along.
Some of the jurors from Hernandez’s first trial were also in the courtroom Friday.
“It took over our lives for five months. We ate, drank, slept this trial,” said former juror CJ Holm. “Really took over, got under our skin. We want to see it through. We want justice.”
But the lone hold-out, Adam Sirois, disagreed.
“Nothing rises beyond reasonable doubt, and that’s a very high threshold for me,” he said. “I think my peers had a very low threshold or didn’t understand what reasonable doubt is.”
The trial is expected to last several months.