NEW YORK — The man charged with killing a 6-year-old New York City boy who was infamously abducted in 1979 pleaded not guilty Wednesday, while his lawyer insisted that his earlier confession to police was false.
Pedro Hernandez, 51, wore a gray sweat suit and answered "not guilty" at the hearing in the case of Etan Patz, whose disappearance helped spawn the movement to publicize cases of missing children.
"My client had no motive and no history," defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said outside court.
Fishbein also noted that a body was never recovered.
He said Hernandez confessed falsely after seven hours of questioning by police.
Fishbein said he will seek to dismiss the case because the only evidence is his client's false confession. But if the case goes forward, Fishbein said, the defense will revolve around his client's mental state.
Psychiatric exams of the jailed Hernandez have found that he has an IQ in the borderline-to-mild-mental-retardation range, his lawyer has said. Hernandez also has been found to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder, which is characterized by hallucinations, Fishbein said.
Etan's disappearance led to an intensive search and garnered huge publicity. His photo was among the first put on milk cartons, and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children's Day.