On the same day and date that Etan Patz disappeared in 1979, 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez of Maple Shade, New Jersey is officially charged in his death.
The former neighborhood handyman is charged with murder in the second degree of the six-year-old Soho boy who vanished while walking to school alone for the first time.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance left 100 Centre St. shortly after 5:30 p.m., but issued the following statement after the arraignment, "Pedro Hernandez was charged today with the murder of Etan Patz," said Vance. "This is the beginning of the legal process, not the end. There is much investigative and other work ahead, and it will be conducted in a measured and careful manner. I want to thank our partners in law enforcement, particularly the NYPD and the FBI, for their unparalleled perseverance over the last three decades."
Hernandez was arraigned via closed circuit from a monitor at Bellevue Hospital.
The married father of one was admitted early Friday morning to the Forensic Psychiatric Unit for observation and reportedly placed under a suicide watch.
The arraignment caps off a long week for the investigation which resulted with Hernandez being taken into custody on Wednesday, arrested on Thursday, and charged Friday. The NYPD began questioning Hernandez after receiving a tip from someone close to him.
As media crews awaited the arraignment, members of the NYPD Crime Scene unit were taking pictures and investigating the scene still at 448 West Broadway. Beside the basement that Patz was allegedly lured into prior to being strangled, a makeshift memorial was already in place. The little boy who would be a man on the eve of 40-years-old today, was remembered with flowers and a stuffed animal.
As for the arraignment itself, Dr. Naftali Garcia Berrill a renowned Forensic Psychiatrist who has conducted evaluations at Bellevue and Rikers told PIX 11 News that an arraignment, after the developments overnight, might be better executed a day later, "because the circumstances demand that they need to know more about Hernandez."
New York law indicates that a person arrested must go before a judge within 24 hours. However, it is not unusual for that time to be stretched at Manhattan Supreme Court.
New York Criminal Procedure Law Article 60.50 also indicates an avenue for Hernandez's court appointed attorney to base an argument on. Article 60.50 states,"A person may not be convicted of any offense solely upon evidence of a confession or admission made by him without additional proof that the offense charged has been committed."
Defense Attorney Glenn Hardy told PIX 11 News, "A defense attorney par excellence would make the argument that a mere confession is not enough to convict. Pursuant to criminal procedure law 60.50."
Defense attorney David Oddo echoed the sentiments during a call to PIX 11 News, saying,"Someone can be arrested and charged with a crime based on the confession alone, but they cannot be convicted without independent corroborating evidence."
The key in all this is whether there is evidence or it can be attained.
The Manhattan DA's office stated that 40-year-old Assistant District Attorney Armand Durastanti, Chief of Trial Bureau, will be supervising the prosecution of the case.
A case that may finally bring closure to the Patz family and put a killer behind bars.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun