By JAY DOW
pix11.com | @jaydownyc
9:20 AM AKST, November 14, 2012
NEW YORK (PIX11)
The Etan Patz case has evolved and shifted gears over the last three decades.
But after many false leads, let downs - and a failure to produce any concrete physical evidence against any suspet, the Manhattan D.A.'s office is now standing behind the most legally significant development to date -- an indictment against 51-year old Pedro Hernandez.
So it seems odd that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance - who in the past has been his office's public voice for much less significant cases - would allow a spokesperson to announce the indictment.
It's still unclear why.
Vance's choice raises the question of just how confident he is in his case -- which re-entered the headlines back in May.
That's when Hernandez confessed that, as a teenage bodega worker, he abducted the 6-year-old as he made his first solo walk to the bus stop from his home on Prince Street in SoHo.
Hernandez – who also admitted to killing, and disposing of Patz’s body like it was trash – was never a suspect in this epic cold case, that is until his confession.
In a written statement, Vance spokesperson Erin Duggan said, “This indictment is the outcome of a lengthy and deliberative process, involving months of factual investigation and legal analysis. We believe the evidence that Mr. Hernandez killed Etan Patz to be credible and persuasive, and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness.”
Despite prosecutors’ confidence in this case, propelled by this new grand jury indictment winning a guilty verdict against Hernandez will not be easy, because of his alleged mental state.
In fact, Hernandez's defense attorney Harvey Fishbein argues nothing that comes out of a trial will answer what actually happened to Etan Patz.
“The indictment is based solely on statements allegedly made by my client, who has, in the past, been repeatedly diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, and who has, over the last six months, been found to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder, which is characterized by, among other things, unusual perceptual experiences, commonly referred to as hallucinations."
PIX11 asked defense attorney Ron Kuby to weigh in on the indictment.
"The thing that's so striking about this case, is if the confession is true it means that Hernandez, at the age of 18, for no apparent reason, lured a young boy downstairs, murdered him in the most vicious way, and dumped his body. Now people who are that depraved, who do things like that - you tend to hear from them again in the criminal justice system", Kuby told Pix11.
Dow responded, "But that's not to say that it's impossible for someone to commit that crime and then go off the radar for the next three decades, right?"
Kuby replied, "Well obviously, it's not impossible to commit the crime and get away with it. Because, somebody did commit the crime and has gotten away with it for a very long time. But the standard for a criminal prosecution should be higher that something than - well it's not impossible that did it. I guess he could have done it. Let's face it, there's been more evidence against other people, than there is against him."