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Court date for Etan Patz suspect put off again

September 25, 2012 5:42:37 AM PDT
Authorities have again postponed the next court date for a man charged with murdering Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who vanished while walking to school in 1979.

Pedro Hernandez had been due in court on Oct. 1. But prosecutors announced Monday that his appearance was put off to Nov. 15 so both sides can continue to investigate "in a measured and fair manner," the same wording used when a court date in June was adjourned for three months.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said Monday that he had agreed to the delay.

Police say Hernandez confessed earlier this year to killing Etan, one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton. Since then, investigators have been trying to gather evidence that could corroborate the admission.

Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a nearby convenience store when Etan disappeared on May 25, 1979. A judge in 2001 declared Etan dead, but his body has never been found.

Hernandez, now 51, wasn't eyed as a suspect in Etan's disappearance until May, when a tipster contacted police.

Police say Hernandez, once confronted by detectives, said he'd lured Etan into the convenience store with the promise of a soda, strangled him in a basement and left his body in some nearby trash. Hernandez was arrested outside his Camden, N.J., home.

Fishbein has said Hernandez is a bipolar schizophrenic with a history of hallucinations. A judge ordered an evaluation of whether he was mentally fit for trial, but results aren't yet known.

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