Impact echoes as trial nears in Etan Patz murder

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Impact echoes as trial nears in Etan Patz murder
New York Police Department spokesman Paul Brown holds an original missing poster of Etan Patz during a news conference near a New York City apartment building, where police and FBI agents were searching a basement for clues in the boy's 1979 disappearance, in New York April 19, 2012. The authorities began their search early on Thursday at the SoHo neighborhood building where the 6-year-old boy disappeared, FBI spokesman Peter Donald said. Patz, who was one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, was formally declared dead in 2001. His disappearance helped launch a national movement on the issue of missing children. The date May 25 was declared "National Missing Child Day" in his honor. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY)
Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York November 15, 2012. Hernandez, the man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz faces murder and kidnapping charges in Manhattan, in a case that has haunted the city for more than three decades and altered the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/Louis Lanzano/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Stanley Patz, father of Etan Patz, speaks to the media at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
A Jury member is ushered out as she yells out that "Pedro Hernandez is guilty" after the jury addressed the press at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. A judge declared a mistrial on Friday in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to killing Etan Patz, the New York City boy whose 1979 disappearance changed the way the U.S. handles reports of missing and abducted children. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Juror #11 Adam Sirois (L) admits that he was the lone hold-out, as members of the jury from the Pedro Hernandez trial speak to the media at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. A judge declared a mistrial on Friday in the trial of Hernandez, who confessed to killing Etan Patz, the New York City boy whose 1979 disappearance changed the way the U.S. handles reports of missing and abducted children. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A "Still Missing" poster of Etan Patz is seen in this undated handout photograph from the New York Police Department that was released April 19, 2012. FBI agents and New York City police officers began searching a basement for clues in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz Thursday at the SoHo neighborhood building where the 6-year-old boy disappeared, FBI spokesman Peter Donald said. Patz, who was one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, was formally declared dead in 2001. His disappearance helped launch a national movement on the issue of missing children. The date May 25 was declared "National Missing Child Day" in his honor. REUTERS/NYPD/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Shira Patz arrives at the Manhattan Supreme Court for the trial of Pedro Hernandez who is charged with the abduction and murder of her brother Etan Patz, in New York May 5, 2015. A New York jury retired for the day without reaching a verdict on Tuesday after telling the judge it was deadlocked in the murder trial of a man accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Stanley Patz (R), father of Etan Patz, speaks to the media at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. A judge declared a mistrial on Friday in the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to killing Etan Patz, the New York City boy whose 1979 disappearance changed the way the U.S. handles reports of missing and abducted children. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Pedro Hernandez appears with his lawyer Harvey Fishbein (unseen) in the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York November 15, 2012. Hernandez, the man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz faces murder and kidnapping charges in Manhattan, in a case that has haunted the city for more than three decades and altered the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/Louis Lanzano/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Julie Patz, mother of Etan Patz, walks from her family home in New York May 30, 2012. A man who police say confessed to strangling Etan Patz was charged with second-degree murder on Friday, 33 years after the 6-year-old boy vanished from his New York neighborhood and soon changed the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Rosemary Hernandez (C), wife of Pedro Hernandez, leaves the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York November 15, 2012. Pedro Hernandez, the man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz faces murder and kidnapping charges in Manhattan, in a case that has haunted the city for more than three decades and altered the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Pedro Hernandez is arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court via video link seen here in this courtroom sketch in New York May 25, 2012. Hernandez, was hospitalized early Friday after making comments about wanting to kill himself, worked as a stock boy in a small food store on the Manhattan SoHo street where Etan Patz was last seen on May 25, 1979, was charged with a single count of second-degree murder, according to court records. REUTERS/Shirley Shepherd (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
New York Police investigate an alleyway close to where Etan Patz disappeared 33 years ago in New York May 25, 2012. A man who confessed to strangling Patz faced arraignment for murder on Friday, exactly 33 years after the 6-year-old boy vanished from his New York neighborhood and soon changed the way the nation responds to missing children. Police believe Pedro Hernandez had dumped the body of Patz in this alley way, according to local media reports. REUTERS/ Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
People walk past a street shrine to six-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared 33 years ago, set in front of the building where suspect Pedro Hernandez confessed to have strangled the boy in New York on May 29, 2012. Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
A poster with the writing of accused Pedro Hernandez is pictured in this undated evidence handout photo provided by defense attorney Alice Fontier. Jurors in the New York murder trial of the man who confessed to strangling Etan Patz in 1979 asked on Friday to examine a missing-child poster featuring the 6-year-old boy on which the suspect had written, "I am sorry (and) choke him." REUTERS/Defense attorney Alice Fontier/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Rosemary Hernandez (R) is accompanied by her daughter Becky as she return to a court in New York on January 30, 2015 during a trial of her husband Pedro Hernandez who is accused of kidnapping and killing six-year-old Etan Patz in one of America's most famous missing child cases. Hernandez, 53, is accused of luring Etan Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked, before killing and dumping his body out with the trash on May 25, 1979. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A notice to the media from Stan Patz, the father of Etan Patz who disappeared 33 years ago at age six, is posted in front of the building where the Patz family lives, in New York, May 29, 2012. Suspect Pedro Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
A street shrine to six-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared 33 years ago, is set in front of the building where suspect Pedro Hernandez confessed to have strangled the boy in New York on May 29, 2012. Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
A man takes a photo of a street shrine to six-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared 33 years ago, set in front of the building where suspect Pedro Hernandez confessed to have strangled the boy in New York on May 29, 2012. Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
A young girl looks at a street shrine to six-year-old Etan Patz who disappeared 33 years ago, set in front of the building where suspect Pedro Hernandez confessed to have strangled the boy in New York on May 29, 2012. Pedro Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd L) and wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd L) and wife Rosemary Hernandez (3rd L), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd L) and daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd L) and wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly talks to members of the media after a news conference at Police Headquarters May 24, 2012 in in New York City. Kelly announced the arrest of Pedro Hernandez, who police say confessed to the 1979 killing of six-year-old Etan Patz. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly holds a news conference at Police Headquarters May 24, 2012 in in New York City. Kelly announced the arrest of Pedro Hernandez, who police say confessed to the 1979 killing of six-year-old Etan Patz. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The search continues on a rainy Sunday at the site where New York police and FBI agents dig up a basement believed to contain clues to the unsolved disappearance 33 years ago of six-year-old Etan Patz in New York, April 21, 2012. Police shut off two blocks of Prince Street and erected a blue tarpaulin tent over the entrance to the basement where detectives hope finally to break the case of Etan Patz, who became America's most famous missing child when he vanished on his way to school in 1979. AFP PHOTO / Mehdi Taamallah (Photo credit should read MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)
New York police and FBI agents talk at the site where they dig up a basement believed to contain clues to the unsolved disappearance 33 years ago of six-year-old Etan Patz, in New York, April 21, 2012. Police shut off two blocks of Prince Street and erected a blue tarpaulin tent over the entrance to the basement where detectives hope finally to break the case of Etan Patz, who became America's most famous missing child when he vanished on his way to school in 1979. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A New York policeman covered in dust, takes a break as New York police and FBI agents dig up a basement believed to contain clues to the unsolved disappearance 33 years ago of six-year-old Etan Patz, in New York, April 21, 2012. Police shut off two blocks of Prince Street and erected a blue tarpaulin tent over the entrance to the basement where detectives hope finally to break the case of Etan Patz, who became America's most famous missing child when he vanished on his way to school in 1979. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: New York City police and F.B.I. investigators remove debris from a crime scene in Soho where investigators searched for evidence of a six year-old boy who has been missing for 33 years on April 20, 2012 in New York City. Investigators from the NYPD and the FBI searched the basement of a building in New York's SoHo neighborhood for evidence of Etan Patz, a six year-old boy who disappeared 33 years ago on May 25, 1979. The neighborhood, once a crime ridden industrial area where bohemian artists lived, has transformed over the years into one of Manhattans most exclusive neighborhoods with luxury retail stores and expensive restaurants. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: New York City police and F.B.I. investigators remove debris from a crime scene in Soho where investigators searched for evidence of a six year-old boy who has been missing for 33 years on April 20, 2012 in New York City. Investigators from the NYPD and the FBI searched the basement of a building in New York's SoHo neighborhood for evidence of Etan Patz, a six year-old boy who disappeared 33 years ago on May 25, 1979. The neighborhood, once a crime ridden industrial area where bohemian artists lived, has transformed over the years into one of Manhattans most exclusive neighborhoods with luxury retail stores and expensive restaurants. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Becky Hernandez (L) and Rosemary Hernandez, daughter and wife of Pedro Hernandez respectively, leave Manhattan Criminal Court in New York May 25, 2012. Pedro Hernandez who confessed to strangling Etan Patz faced arraignment for murder on Friday, exactly 33 years after the 6-year-old boy vanished from his New York neighborhood and soon changed the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/Andrew Burton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
A makeshift memorial is placed outside the premises where Etan Patz allegedly disappeared 33 years ago in New York May 25, 2012. A man who confessed to strangling Patz faced arraignment for murder on Friday, exactly 33 years after the 6-year-old boy vanished from his New York neighborhood and soon changed the way the nation responds to missing children. REUTERS/ Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
FBI agents and New York City police officers stand near a New York City apartment building where they were searching a basement for clues in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz, April 19, 2012. The authorities began their search early on Thursday at the SoHo neighborhood building where the 6-year-old boy disappeared, FBI spokesman Peter Donald said. Patz, who was one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, was formally declared dead in 2001. His disappearance helped launch a national movement on the issue of missing children. The date May 25 was declared "National Missing Child Day" in his honor. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
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NEW YORK (AP) - Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz, whose 1979 disappearance became one of the nation's most infamous and enduring missing-child cases.

About 100 prospective jurors began filling out lengthy questionnaires for the trial of Pedro Hernandez, who wasn't a suspect until 2012. Hernandez then confessed - falsely, because of mental illness, his lawyers say.

After Etan disappeared while walking to his school bus stop on May 25, 1979, his case entered Americans' consciousness, and even their homes, in new ways. He was one of the first vanished children on milk cartons, and National Missing Children's Day marks the anniversary of his disappearance.

State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley acknowledged Monday that decades of publicity about the case meant that some potential jurors probably know about it, but he said that wouldn't necessarily disqualify them.

Etan was never found, and the investigation spanned decades. After police followed an ultimately fruitless lead to a Manhattan basement in April 2012, they got a tip about Hernandez. Authorities eventually learned that in the 1980s, the Maple Shade, New Jersey, man apparently told a friend, his now-ex-wife and a church prayer circle he'd hurt an unnamed child in New York City.

But after more than six hours of police questioning, Hernandez gave a calm, consistent account to police and prosecutors on video in May 2012: He choked Etan, put the still-living boy into a plastic bag, stuffed the bag in a box and dumped it on a street.

Hernandez's defense maintains his confessions are the false imaginings of a man who has an IQ in the lowest 2 percent of the population. They say he has taken anti-psychotic medication for years and was diagnosed after his arrest with schizotypal personality disorder.

The confession appears to be the key to the case. Authorities have not pointed to any physical or scientific evidence against Hernandez, and his defense has said there is none.

Jury selection is likely to take days, and the trial could take two to three months.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.

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