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Etan Patz jury goes home for the weekend without a verdict

A frame grab of Pedro Hernandez confessing to

A frame grab of Pedro Hernandez confessing to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Photo Credit: Manhattan District Attorney's office

After 10 weeks of trial and 13 days of deliberation, the prospect of a hung jury loomed over the Etan Patz murder trial Friday as jurors retired for the weekend after listening to readbacks of the defense and prosecution summations.

The seven men and five women on the panel said on Wednesday in a note that they were "unable to reach a unanimous decision," but after Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley ordered them to keep trying, they asked to rehear closing arguments, which took the better part of two days.

Some court officials said it was one of the longest jury deliberations in a New York City case in recent memory, and none of the tense group of prosecutors, defense lawyers and police waiting for a verdict was ready to make a firm prediction on when it would end.

"I can't tell you what's going on and how much longer it's going to take," Harvey Fishbein, the lawyer for defendant Pedro Hernandez, told reporters as he left court. "I suspect Monday is a day when we may get another indication."

Six-year-old Etan disappeared on his way to a SoHo school bus stop on May 25, 1979. His body was never found, which has complicated the prosecution case.

In 2012, a relative of Hernandez, 54, a disabled factory worker living in Maple Shade, New Jersey, tipped police that he might have been involved. Hernandez then told police in a now-disputed confession that as a teen working at a SoHo bodega he lured Etan into the basement and strangled him.

The defense has argued that the confession was a delusion produced by a mental disorder, and has also cast suspicion on another man, Jose Ramos, a convicted pedophile who had a relationship with a woman who walked Etan to school during a 1979 bus strike.

The jury's note this week, lawyers agree, increased the odds of a possible mistrial next week. The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has not said whether it would retry Hernandez, and Etan's parents have not signaled whether they would push for a retrial -- or whether they believe Hernandez is guilty.

The jury -- which includes three management consultants, a real estate agent, an artist, a woman who runs a design business and another with an event-planning business -- began hearing evidence on Jan. 30.

Despite the lengthy trial and stalled deliberations, jurors appeared focused as they listened to a court reporter read back the prosecution summation for nearly five hours Friday, with many taking notes.

The readback finished just before 4 p.m., and jurors deliberated for an hour without any notes before calling it quits until Monday.


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