Etan Patz parents seek reversal of ’04 conviction in murder case

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The parents of Etan Patz, a Jewish boy who was killed in 1979, are seeking the overturning of a 2004 judgment blaming a pedophile for the boy’s murder — which they claim was perpetrated by a different person.

Etan’s father, Stan Patz, filed an affidavit on Wednesday morning in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying he and his wife, Julie, had no doubt that Pedro Hernandez, a former grocery store worker, was the true killer and not Jose Ramos, the convicted pedophile whom a judge 12 years ago found guilty of the murder.

Hernandez, 55, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, was tried on murder charges last year, but a Manhattan jury could not reach a verdict after 18 days. A second trial is expected to get underway in just a month, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Hernandez was arrested based on a tip from a family member and confessed to having strangled the boy in the basement of the grocery store after luring him there with a soda, though his defense argues his confession was false.

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At the first trial, the defense argued that the evidence pointed to Ramos, not Hernandez. In 2004, Justice Barbara R. Kapnick declared Ramos liable by default after he declined to answer questions about the murder. He was questioned while serving time for raping young boys in Pennsylvania.

In his affidavit, Stan Patz said he was not aware of the evidence against Hernandez in 2001 when he asked a court to hold Ramos responsible for Etan’s death. At the time, Ramos was the prime suspect for the police and had made incriminating statements to a federal prosecutor.

Etan disappeared in May 1979 on the way from his family’s loft on Prince Street to a school bus stop two blocks away. His body was never found. Hernandez, then 18, worked nearby at a grocery store.