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Court Date of Confessed Patz Killer Postponed

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne holding the original missing persons sign for Etan Patz, who went missing in 1979. FBI and NYPD excavated a building on Prince Street. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne holding the original missing persons sign for Etan Patz, who went missing in 1979. FBI and NYPD excavated a building on Prince Street. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The court date for the confessed killer of a schoolboy who vanished from a New York City street 33 years ago is being postponed for three months as authorities and his lawyer continue to investigate.

Pedro Hernandez, 51, was set to appear in court on Monday. But the Manhattan district attorney's office said the appearance was pushed to Oct. 1 so that both sides could investigate "in a measured and fair manner."

Hernandez's lawyer and his wife say the confessed killer is mentally ill.

The married father who lived in Maple Shade, N.J., confessed in May to killing Etan Patz, claiming he lured the boy away from a bus stop in Soho with the promise of a soda. Hernandez was working as a clerk in a bodega in 1979 and lived nearby.

Following his arrest, he was treated for existing health problems and suicidal thoughts at Bellevue Hospital, where he was arraigned. His attorney said his client is bipolar and schizophrenic.

There is no physical evidence or motive linking Hernandez to the crime, police said. He has no criminal record. WNYC reported that the lack of physical evidence has put prosecutors in a bind:

There is no physical evidence or motive linking Hernandez to the crime, police said. He has no criminal record. Because there's little physical evidence, it's likely the case will hinge on whether the confession is admissible in court. Psychologists reportedly examined Hernandez Friday, as authorities prepare to arraign him.

Hernandez's confession put investigators in the unusual position of bringing the case to court before they had amassed any physical evidence or had time to fully corroborate his story or investigate his psychiatric condition.

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