By Natasja Sheriff
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jurors in the trial of a former deli worker who confessed to killing Etan Patz in 1979 listened on Friday to a re-reading of witness testimony that implicated another, earlier suspect in the case of the missing 6-year-old boy.
Pedro Hernandez, 54, is charged in state Supreme Court in Manhattan with the murder and kidnapping of Patz, one of the first missing children whose pictures appeared on milk cartons in an effort to locate them.
Patz disappeared on May 25, 1979, as he was walking alone for the first time to his school bus stop in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.
His lawyers have said the real culprit is Jose Ramos, long a prime suspect in the disappearance. His girlfriend once walked Patz and his friends home from school.
Ramos is a convicted child molester in prison in Pennsylvania.
On Friday, its eighth day of deliberations, the jury listened to a readback it requested of testimony by a former federal prosecutor who worked on the Patz case and recommended prosecuting Ramos.
They also asked to rehear testimony by a former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who worked on the case as well and also recommended Ramos be charged.
The reading back of the witnesses’ lengthy testimony was expected to take all day.
Hernandez, who worked in a Soho deli, confessed to police in 2012 that he lured the boy into the store’s basement with the offer of a soda, strangled him and left his still moving body in a box in an alley.
Hernandez’s defense maintains he is mentally ill and that his confession was coerced.
Patz has never been found, and a court in 2001 declared him legally dead.
If convicted, Hernandez faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Doina Chiacu)