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The Latest: Lawyer says suspect in Etan Patz case is fragile

Harvey Fishbein, defense attorney for Pedro Hernandez on trial for the murder and kidnapping of Etan Patz in 1979, arrives for court in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
October 19, 2016 - 12:45 PM

NEW YORK - The Latest on the retrial in one of the nation's most influential missing-child cases (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

A defence lawyer says the man charged in one of the nation's most influential missing-child cases is an innocent, mentally fragile person who confessed falsely.

Opening statements unfolded Wednesday in a retrial surrounding the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz (AY'-tahn payts). Pedro Hernandez is charged with kidnapping and killing the 6-year-old New York City boy.

Defence lawyer Harvey Fishbein says Hernandez is "an odd, limited and vulnerable person" whose only connection to the case was working at a convenience store near Etan's home.

Prosecutors say Hernandez hid a brutal secret for more than 30 years before admitting he killed Etan.

Hernandez's lawyers say the Maple Shade, New Jersey, man is mentally ill and imagined he killed the first-grader.

Etan was among the first missing children featured on a milk carton.

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12:05 p.m.

Prosecutors are introducing jurors to one of the nation's most influential missing-child cases as a suspect goes on trial for a second time.

Opening statements began Wednesday in a retrial surrounding the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz (AY'-tahn payts).

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi (ihl-OO'-zee) says it was "a defining moment" of lost innocence.

She says: "It is Etan who will forever symbolize the loss of that innocence."

Prosecutors say former convenience store clerk Pedro Hernandez hid a brutal secret for more than 30 years before admitting he killed Etan. Etan was 6 when he vanished while walking to his school bus stop.

Hernandez's lawyers say the Maple Shade, New Jersey, man is mentally ill and falsely confessed.

Etan was among the first missing children featured on milk cartons.

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1:15 a.m.

One of the nation's most influential missing-child cases is about to be laid out for a jury — again.

Opening statements are set for Wednesday in a retrial surrounding the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz (AY'-tahn PAYTS').

Prosecutors say former convenience store clerk Pedro Hernandez hid a brutal secret for more than 30 years before admitting to murder. His lawyers say the Maple Shade, New Jersey, man is mentally ill and falsely confessed.

Etan's 6-year-old face became one of the first missing children's portraits that Americans saw on milk cartons. The anniversary of his disappearance became National Missing Children's Day. His parents helped push for a law that modernized how law enforcement handles missing-child cases.

The 55-year-old Hernandez wasn't a suspect until police got a tip in 2012.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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