Hearing Postponed for Suspect in Etan Patz Killing

Prosecutors need more time to determine whether there is enough evidence for a criminal case, source says

By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
|  Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012  |  Updated 2:46 PM EDT
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PHOTOS: Etan Patz Investigation

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Former Bodega Stock Clerk Arrested in 1979 Killing of Etan Patz

A former bodega stock clerk has been arrested for allegedly luring 6-year-old Etan Patz and choking him in a SoHo basement. Jonathan Dienst has the story.

NYPD Announces Arrest in 1979 Cold Case

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the arrest of Pedro Hernandez, 51, who police say confessed to killing Etan Patz 33 years ago.
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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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