SHANNYCE LASHLEY AND SARAH ALLAM
Jurors in the Etan Patz trial on Tuesday sent a note to the judge for a second time in a week, saying they were deadlocked after fourteen days of deliberations on the fate of the man accused of murdering the six- year- old boy in 1979.
“After serious, significant, and thorough deliberations, we remain unable to reach a unanimous decision,” the note to Manhattan judge Maxwell Wiley said.
The defense requested a mistrial but Wiley ordered the jurors back to the jury room and told them to “apply common sense.” “Do not be concerned with the effect of the verdict on others,” he said. The judge indicated that this would be the last time that the jurors will be asked to try again.
Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein portrayed the judge’s move as “coercive.” “This is a tired jury,” he added, “and they have said they are finished and we asked the court to respect that.”
The obviously weary jury of seven men and five women have asked the judge for read-backs of testimony, clarification on words, Hernandez’s high school records, and a review of his instructions regarding the legal requirements to convict a person, among many other evidence reviews
The defendant, Pedro Hernandez, is accused of kidnapping and murdering Etan Patz on May 25, 1979 when the boy vanished without a trace walking to his school bus stop near his home in Soho. In 2012, Hernandez confessed that he strangled the boy, put his body in a plastic bag, then stuffed it in a box, and put the box in a nearby alley.
The defense argues that Hernandez is mentally ill, hallucinated the attack and that his confessions were bogus. The defense also have suggested that the real killer was convicted pedophile Jose Ramos, an early suspect.
The prosecution tried to convince the jury that Hernandez was not mentally ill and that his confessions were truthful.
The jury has worked on the case for an unusual length of time first appearing in court on January 5 and beginning to hear evidence on February 2. Deliberations began on April 15.
If convicted, Hernandez faces life in prison.
Courtroom observers predicted a mistrial was looming, further prolonging the frustrations of the family of the victim and members of the defendant’s family who have attended court for each day of deliberations.