By ELIZABETH ELIZALDE
Jurors in the Etan Patz murder trial deliberated for a fifth day without reaching a verdict on Tuesday and requested more evidence to weigh against a man accused of killing the six-year-old boy in 1979.
The jury of five women and seven men asked Judge Maxwell Wiley at Manhattan Supreme Court, for clarification on “corroboration,” “circumstantial evidence,” and “hearsay.” They also asked the judge to review his instructions regarding the legal requirements to convict a person.
Judge Wiley says that the defendant, Pedro Hernandez’s confession was not enough to convict him of a crime and that jurors should find more proof that he committed murder. The jury also asked for Hernandez’s high school records and maps of the bodega basement where he allegedly lured Etan with a soda.
The former bodega clerk, 54, told investigators in a 2012 videotape confession that he strangled Etan without a motive. The defense argues that Hernandez delivered false statements under police pressure and that he has a personality disorder that limits his coherent thinking.
The jury has been deliberating since last Wednesday and made several testimonial requests, including a readback from Dr. Michael First, a witness psychiatrist for the defense. He diagnosed Hernandez, with schizotypal personality disorder in June 2012. Requests by the jury suggest that they’re considering whether Hernandez’s confessions are false or credible.
Hernandez told First during their interview that he strangled Etan in a bodega basement, put him a plastic bag, stuffed his body in a box and disposed of it at a street curb.
“It was like something took over me,” Hernandez told First.
“The way he told the story was very much like a confession,” First told jurors during his testimony in March. “It’s clear that he doesn’t know what is real and what is not.”
But defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said legally, this wasn’t enough.
“The defendant’s statements need to be corroborated by some other proof of a crime,” Fishbein told reporters, including Brooklyn News Service, outside the courtroom. “That’s the corroboration that we’ve been looking for since the day that Pedro was arrested. Perhaps the jury is also.”
On Monday, jurors asked for the weather report from May 25th, 1979, the day Etan disappeared. Hernandez recalled the day as sunny and nice, but it was gray and gloomy instead.
JPhone records between Hernandez and his brother-in-law Juan Santana, who tipped investigators, were also obtained by the jury, along with transcripts of phone conversations between Hernandez and his wife Rosemary at Rikers Island.
The defense also suggests that convicted child molester, Jose Ramos, is the real killer. Ramos told two jailhouse informants that he was “90 percent,” the boy he abducted in Washington Square Park was Etan.
Prosecutors believe Hernandez is not mentally ill and that his confessions are credible. They pointed to jurors that Hernandez confessed to his childhood friend, Mark Pike and ex – wife Daisy Hernandez that he strangled a boy in New York, long before he became a suspect in the case.
Deliberation was scheduled to resume on Wednesday morning. If convicted of murder and kidnapping, Hernandez faces life in prison.