Pedro Hernandez, the man charged with killing 6-year-old Etan Patz 33 years ago, will plead not guilty, says his lawyer. His lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, says that Hernandez's confession that he suffocated little Etan is false, "unreliable," and that Hernandez is schizophrenic and suffers hallucinations. So what does this mean for the case? Will Etan and his family ever see justice?
The boy's disappearance has been a mystery all of these years. But in May, Hernandez reportedly confessed to the crime and was arrested and indicted. That's a long time to wait for justice. Those who thought a confession would mean an open and shut case are wrong.
Strangely, false confessions are fairly common. People do it for all sorts of reasons: Mental illness. An attempt to get out of another crime if they confess to one they didn't do. Attention. And there have been studies that show that people will pretty much confess to anything if they're denied sleep for a certain amount of time or are threatened. I don't know why Hernandez confessed. Maybe he did it. Maybe not.
But with his not guilty plea in place, the state will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did it. The Manhattan district attorney's office seems confident. They say the evidence against Hernandez is "credible and persuasive" and that his confession "was not the product of any mental illness."
Reportedly, law enforcement had also scoured the basement where Hernandez used to work, seized a piece of child's clothing and his computer, and also conducted extensive interviews. One source told the Associated Press that "nothing" came out of this -- but the district attorney must have more than a 33-year-old confession from a man with a history of mental illness. Let's hope.
Another man, Jose Ramos, had already been sued by Etan's family for his death -- and won. But it's unclear what implications that will have on a trial for a different person.
We all want answers in this case. And sometimes the wheels of justice turn very, very slowly. But better they turn slowly than not at all. Let's hope we get some answers soon.
Do you think Hernandez is guilty?
Image via NYPD