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New York court asked to drop murder charges in 1979 Etan Patz case

New York

Court asked to toss charges in '79 child killing

A man's confession in one of the nation's most notorious child disappearances was false, peppered with questionable claims and made after almost seven hours of police questioning, his lawyer said Wednesday in court papers asking a judge to dismiss the murder case. "No evidence or witnesses have been found corroborating any of the few facts" in Pedro Hernandez's statements about the 1979 vanishing of 6-year-old Etan Patz, defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein wrote, arguing that there's not enough proof to support the case. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which has previously said there's sufficient evidence to sustain the charges, declined to comment. A judge isn't expected to rule until next month.

Washington

Kerry: Gains made in Libya inquiry

Seven months after the attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, the Obama administration said Wednesday it was making progress in holding accountable those responsible for killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has identified people it thinks were involved in the Benghazi attack. FBI investigators are still combing through video and other evidence gathered from largely lawless eastern Libya, he said.

Washington

Report: Rethink Iran sanctions

A panel of former senior U.S. officials and outside experts, including several who recently left the Obama administration, issued a surprisingly critical assessment Wednesday of U.S. diplomacy toward Iran, urging President Barack Obama to become more engaged and to reconsider the likelihood that harsh sanctions will drive Tehran to concessions. In a report issued by the Iran Project, the group suggested the sanctions policy may be backfiring. As the pressure has increased, it concluded, sanctions have "contributed to an increase in repression and corruption within Iran" and "may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation between the Iranian people and the United States."

Wellington, New Zealand

Gay marriage legal in New Zealand

New Zealand on Wednesday became the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill on its third and final reading Wednesday night. Prime Minister John Key supported the law change, after last May saying he wasn't opposed to gay marriage shortly after President Barack Obama voiced his support for it.

Wallops Island, Va.

Test rocket launch is scrubbed

A private company hired by NASA to make supply runs to the International Space Station scrubbed a Wednesday test launch of an unmanned rocket, saying an important data cord linked to the rocket's second stage detached too soon. The towering Antares rocket was scheduled to lift off from Virginia's Eastern Shore when the countdown clock was halted at the 12-minute mark. Barron Beneski, a spokesman for Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, said another launch attempt would be tried no sooner than Friday afternoon.

Times wires

New York court asked to drop murder charges in 1979 Etan Patz case 04/17/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:03pm]
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