The next hearing for Pedro Hernandez, the former SoHo bodega clerk arrested last month for allegedly luring 6-year-old Etan Patz into a basement and strangling him, has been postponed, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Wednesday.
Hernandez, 51, had been due back in court next Monday. His next appearance will now not be until Oct. 1.
Prosecutors need more time to determine whether there is enough evidence against Hernandez to move forward with a criminal case, said a source familiar with the investigation. Defense lawyers will use the extra time to work towards demonstrating why, in their view, the case should be dropped, the source said.
Both parties agreed to the postponement, the source said, but a grand jury indictment would have been needed to keep Hernandez in custody if his lawyers had not agreed.
Hernandez's lawyer had no comment.
For now, Hernandez remains at Bellevue, where he has been on suicide watch.
Hernandez, who has a history of mental illness, was arraigned from Bellevue Hospital via video feed on a single charge of second-degree murder. The charge comes 33 years after Patz disappeared off a SoHo street in a tragic case that mystified New York City for decades.
Police said Hernandez had admitted to luring Patz into a bodega where he worked, near the boy's house, and choking him to death in the basement.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said police focused on Hernandez, who now lives in Maple Shade, N.J., after the Missing Persons Squad received a tip from someone who remembered Hernandez speaking of having killed a child.
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