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Recording reveals suspect in Patz case told psychiatrist he didn't do it

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez Photo Credit: Pedro Hernandez (Pool photo)

After confessing that he killed Etan Patz during 18 hours of interviews with a prosecution psychiatrist, suspect Pedro Hernandez unexpectedly reversed course and indicated that he didn't, according to a video played Monday at the Patz murder trial.

The exchange came March 4, 2014, as Dr. Michael Welner was wrapping up his final session with Hernandez and asked what he would say to the family of Etan, the 6-year-old who vanished without a trace on his way to catch a school bus in SoHo in 1979.

"I would say that I'm sorry what happened to their child, and I hope they find whoever did it," Hernandez said.

Hernandez, 54, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, told police in a now-disputed 2012 confession that when he was working in a SoHo bodega as a teen, he lured Etan into the basement and strangled him.

The defense contends the confession was a delusion caused by a mental disorder. Welner, whose testimony began last week, said he didn't detect any psychiatric condition severe enough to cause that, and said he thought Hernandez felt deep guilt over what he did.

Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein ended his cross-examination of Welner by playing the last exchange with Hernandez. Welner said he never asked a follow-up question on the denial because it wasn't his job to get into ultimate questions of guilt or innocence.

Testimony in the Manhattan Supreme Court trial, which began in early February, is expected to wrap up this week. Welner is scheduled to return to the stand Tuesday.

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