Man who killed NYC boy Etan Patz in 1979 gets 25 years to life



NEW YORK, April 18 (Reuters) - A former delicatessen worker who killed 6-year-old New York City boy Etan Patz in a 1979 slaying that helped raise national awareness about the plight of abducted children was sentenced on Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison.

Pedro Hernandez, 56, showed no emotion as he was handed the sentence for murder by Justice Maxwell Wiley in state court in Manhattan. Hernandez was also given 25 years to life for kidnapping, with both sentences to run concurrently. A jury found him guilty of the charges in February.

Images of the Etan Patz case through the years

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Pedro Hernandez - Missing Boy Etan Patz Case
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Pedro Hernandez - Missing Boy Etan Patz Case
Pedro Hernandez's defense lawyer Harvey Fisbein speaks to the media at a court in New York on January 30, 2015 at the lunch break of his client's trial in accusation 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)
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 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 arrives for 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)
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Patz vanished as he walked alone for the first time to a school bus stop in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood on May 25, 1979. He would become one of the first missing children to appear on the side of a milk carton seeking information.

For more than three decades, the case endured as one of the country's most infamous missing child cases until police arrested Hernandez in May 2012 after receiving a tip.

Hernandez, who worked in a bodega near the bus stop, confessed to strangling the boy and then leaving his body in a box outside.

His lawyers argued that the admission was the result of police coercion as well as mental illness that made it difficult for Hernandez to separate fantasy from reality. Patz's body was never found, leaving the confession as the key piece of evidence at trial.

The defense also pointed to another man, Jose Ramos, a convicted pedophile who was long considered a suspect in the crime. Ramos, who is in prison, had a relationship with a woman hired to walk Patz home from school.

A previous trial ended in a mistrial in 2015 when a single juror out of 12 refused to convict Hernandez after weeks of deliberations, prompting prosecutors to retry him.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown)

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