Showing posts with label murder case. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murder case. Show all posts

Friday, May 25, 2012

NJ man charged with murdering NY boy Patz in 1979

Lost child Etan Patz
NEW YORK (AP) -- Thirty-three years to the day after 6-year-old Etan Patz vanished without a trace while walking to catch a school bus, a man accused of strangling him and dumping his body with the trash was arraigned on a murder charge on Friday in a locked hospital ward where he was being held as a suicide risk.

A lawyer for Pedro Hernandez, who was a teenage convenience store stock clerk at the time of the boy's disappearance, told the judge that his client is mentally ill and has a history of hallucinations.

Hernandez, now 51, appeared in court on Friday evening via video camera from a conference room at Bellevue Hospital, where he was admitted earlier in the day after making comments about wanting to kill himself.

The legal proceeding lasted only around 4 minutes. Hernandez didn't speak or enter a plea, but his court-appointed lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, told the judge that his client was bipolar and schizophrenic and has a "history of hallucinations, both visual and auditory."

A judge ordered Hernandez held without bail and authorized a psychological examination to see if he is fit to stand trial.

Hernandez was expressionless during the hearing. He wore an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. A police officer stood behind him.

The prosecutor who appeared in court, Assistant District Attorney Armand Durastanti, said it was "33 years ago today that 6-year-old Etan Patz left his home on Prince Street to catch his school bus. He has not been seen or heard from since. It's been 33 years, and justice has not been done in this case."

Hernandez, a churchgoing father now living in Maple Shade, N.J., was arrested Thursday after making a surprise confession in a case that has bedeviled investigators and inspired dread in generations of New York City parents for three decades.

Etan disappeared on May 25, 1979, on his two-block walk to his bus stop in Manhattan. It was the first time his parents had let him walk the route by himself.

Next to the bus stop was a convenience store, where Hernandez, then 18, worked as a clerk. When police, acting on a tip, interviewed him this week, he said he lured Etan into the basement with a promise of a soda, choked him to death, then stuffed his body in a bag and left it with trash on the street a block away, police said.

Etan's remains were never found, even after a massive search and a media campaign that made parents afraid to let their children out of their sight and sparked a movement to publicize the cases of missing youngsters. Etan was one of the first missing children to be pictured on a milk carton.

Hernandez's confession put investigators in the unusual position of bringing the case to court before they had amassed any physical evidence or had time to fully corroborate his story or investigate his psychiatric condition.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said investigators were retracing garbage truck routes from the late 1970s and deciding whether to search landfills for the boy's remains, a daunting prospect.

Crime scene investigators also arrived Friday morning at the building in Manhattan's SoHo section that once held the bodega where Hernandez worked. Authorities were considering excavating the basement for evidence.

They were also looking into whether Hernandez has a history of mental illness or pedophilia.

Browne said letting Hernandez remain free until the investigation was complete was not an option: "There was no way we could release the man who had just confessed to killing Etan Patz."

Legal experts said that even though police have a confession in hand, they are likely to work hard to make certain Hernandez isn't delusional or simply making the story up.

"There's always a concern whether or not someone is falsely confessing," said former prosecutor Paul DerOhannesian.

As Fishbein arrived at the courthouse, he asked reporters to be respectful of some of Hernandez's relatives there, including his wife and daughter.

"It's a tough day. The family is very upset. Please give them some space," Fishbein said.

Etan's father, Stanley Patz, avoided journalists gathered outside the family's Manhattan apartment, the same one the family was living in when his son vanished.

Former SoHo resident Roberto Monticello, a filmmaker who was a teenager when Patz disappeared, said he remembered Hernandez as civil but reserved and "pent-up."

"You always got the sense that if you crossed him really bad, he would hurt you," Monticello said, although he added that he never saw him hit anyone.

Monticello said Hernandez was also one of the few teenagers in the neighborhood who didn't join in the all-out search for Etan, which consumed SoHo and the city for months. "He was always around, but he never helped. He never participated," Monticello said.

Hernandez, who moved to New Jersey shortly after Etan's disappearance, suffered a back injury that has kept him on disability for years, according to police.

The Rev. George Bowen Jr., pastor at Hernandez's church in Moorestown, N.J., said he attended services regularly.

"I would judge him to be shy and maybe timid. He never got involved in anything," Bowen said.

He said Hernandez's wife, Rosemary, and daughter, Becky, a college student, went to see him Thursday morning after he was taken into police custody.

"They were just crying their eyes out," Bowen said. "They were broken up. They were wrecked. It was horrible. They didn't know what they were going to do."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Hernandez gave a detailed confession that led police to believe they had the right man. He also said Hernandez told a relative and others as far back as 1981 that he had "done something bad" and killed a child in New York.

News by AP

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

George Zimmerman Charged With 2nd Degree Murder in Trayvon Martin's Death

Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who admits he shot unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, was charged with murder today and has been taken into custody.

The charge of second degree murder was announced by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey at a news conference this evening.

If convicted of the charges Zimmerman could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

"We have to have a reasonable certainty of conviction before filing charges," the prosecutor said. A bond hearing will be held Thursday when Zimmerman can apply for bail, she said.

Zimmerman arrived at the Seminole County Jail in a motorcade of black SUVs, armed agents with automatic weapons guarding him at about 8:24 p.m.

Zimmerman went into the jail wearing what appeared to be a windbreaker or jacket over his head.

He will undergo a medical screening process and then county officials will evaluate whether or not he will go into general population.

Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's new lawyer, said this evening that he intended to seek his release at Thursday's hearing and said that he spoke briefly with Zimmerman.

"He's troubled by the fact that the state decided to charge him," O'Mara said.

The lawyer also said Zimmerman is scared.

"I think anyone who is charged with second degree murder would be scared. Yes, he's frightened," O'Mara said.

Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, who was 17 and black, on Feb. 26 after following the teenager for several minutes.

Corey opened her news conference by saying that she had spoken with Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, when she took over the case last month and "we told those sweet parents" that they would get answers.

She also worried that the "overwhelming amount of publicity in this case" could complicate efforts to get an impartial jury, adding that there was "so much information on this case that was released that shouldn't have been released."

Martin's parents said at a news conference this evening that were grateful that Zimmerman has been arrested.

"We simply wanted an arrest," Sybrina Fulton said. "We got it and we say thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus."

Tracy Martin said, however, "This is just the beginning. We have a long way to go.. and we will march and march and march until the right thing is done."

O'Mara said that the case has become emotionally charged and that his client "is concerned about getting a fair trial. We need to calm this down and it needs to be tried in a courtroom."

He also said he is worried about Zimmerman's safety.

"If he was walking down the street right now he would be at risk," O'Mara said. "I'm hoping we can keep him safe."

He added, "He is a client who has a lot of hatred focused on him."

The charges are certain to provoke controversy in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, and across the country.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett held a news conference this evening to ask for "continued calm in the city of Sanford, surrounding areas and across the nation."

Earlier this week, Tripllett said his city has become a "kindling box" due to the high emotions surrounding the case, and that he would "plan for the worst and hope for the best."

He also said that he had faith in the Sanford police department although it had declined to arrest Zimmerman after the shooting.

The case gained national prominence with rallies across the country demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with murder. Zimmerman and his supporters say that the shooting had nothing to do with race and that he shot Martin in self-defense.

The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the shooting.

Attorney General Eric Holder indicate today that the feds will have a higher bar to establish that the shooting was a hate crime.

"For a federal hate crime we have to prove the highest standard in the law it is something that was reckless, that was negligent... We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind," Holder said.

The city of Sanford has been getting increasingly tense as the decision neared. Six shots were fired into an empty police cruiser earlier this week in the neighborhood where Martin was killed.

The New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman and his lawyers said Zimmerman had received death threats.

The New Socialist Movement, a white supremacy group, said they were patrol Sanford to protect whites and racists comments about the shooting have sprung up on social media sites.

Debate over the shooting became so widespread that even President Obama commented, saying if he had a son he would have looked like Trayvon Martin.

On his website, Zimmerman released a statement about the shooting this week, calling the incident a "life-altering event."

"As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately my entire life," he wrote.

In a written statement to police on the night of the shooting, Zimmerman said that he'd called 911 to report a suspicious man and that as he returned to his car, Martin attacked him. Zimmerman said that Martin punched him in the nose and knocked him down, slammed his head on the ground and tried to take his gun.

The police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose. His lawyer said later that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose.

After Zimmerman received medical attention, it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford police station for questioning. He was not arrested.

News by ABC

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