Jury in ’79 missing-boy case is rehearing closing arguments

1 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After Announcing Deadlock, Jurors Press On In Etan Patz Case.

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors in the murder trial surrounding the decades-old missing-child case of Etan Patz took the unusual step of rehearing closing arguments Thursday, a day after saying they were deadlocked. BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | On Wednesday, it was reported that that the jury in the Etan Patz missing-child murder case told the judge they could not reach a verdict on whether Pedro Hernandez is guilty in the boy’s disappearance in 1979. A court stenographer began reading the defense’s summation in the case against Pedro Hernandez as jurors listened, some appearing to make new entries in personal notes that already spanned several legal pads. The jury sent a midday note saying it couldn’t reach a unanimous decision in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who is accused of kidnapping and killing a boy whose disappearance helped fuel a national movement to find missing children.

A judge instructed the jury to keep deliberating and on went a waiting game befitting a notorious missing-child case that’s already spanned decades. Jurors will then break to discuss it before rehearing the prosecution’s closing remarks. “Given the nature of this case, I don’t think you’ve been considering this case long enough to conclude that you cannot reach a verdict,” state Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley told the weary-looking jurors. The judge told jurors that no other jury will ever be better equipped than they are right now to resolve this now 36-year-old case, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.

High-profile cases often spawn long deliberations, and it’s not surprising if juries hit a wall, says longtime Los Angeles-based jury consultant Philip K. Hernandez, who was arrested in 2012, told police that he lured the 6-year-old Soho boy, with the promise of a soda, into the basement of a bodega at West Broadway and Prince St. where he worked, and then choked him to death.

It wasn’t clear what jurors in Hernandez’s case hoped to glean. “I think it helps clarify whatever issues might remain in some jurors’ minds,” said one of Hernandez’s lawyers, Harvey Fishbein, adding that he was encouraged by the possibility that the summations could aid deliberations. And then, when you heap on top of that a trial with some sensationalism and notoriety associated with it, it becomes a real pressure-cooker for jurors,” he said. Prosecutors said Wednesday they were confident the jury could reach “a just verdict.” Etan disappeared while walking to his Manhattan school bus stop. Hernandez’s defense team has argued that his confessions were coerced by police, and that he has a very low I.Q., hallucinates and is extremely suggestible.

Defense attorneys tried to convince the jury the defendant is mentally ill, that his confession was a delusion and that a convicted pedophile, now jailed in Pennsylvania, was the more likely culprit. Ramos, who is serving time in Pennsylvania on child-molestation charges, was brought to New York City in December for the trial pursuant to a “material witness order.” But, exercising his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, he refused to take the stand. The deliberations have helped push the trial well into spring — something the judge has alluded to when bidding farewell to jurors each evening. “Try to enjoy the outdoors and think about something else for a while,” he said when dismissing them Wednesday afternoon. We appreciate your comments and ask that you keep to the subject at hand, refrain from use of profanity and maintain a respectful tone to both the subject at hand and other readers who also post here. Hernandez’s lawyers say the 54-year-old’s confessions are false, generated by a man with a mental illness that makes it difficult for him to tell reality from imagination.

But several nodded as the judge noted that their 10 days of deliberating hadn’t all been in discussion — it was punctuated by lengthy readbacks and, on the first day, what the judge described as a break for birthday cake. (Jurors later sent a note asking to clarify the record: “We, the jury, actually did not eat the cake until after we were instructed to stop deliberating!”) Since beginning deliberations April 15, jurors have asked for — and mostly gotten — a variety of items including Hernandez’s videotaped confessions, recordings of jail calls between Hernandez and his wife after his arrest and a missing-person poster signed by Hernandez. Hernandez, 54, has “been sitting in jail for three years,” defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein said. “But I can’t stress enough the toll this has taken on his wife and daughter, particularly his daughter.”

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