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Wednesday October 19, 2016
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Stanley Patz, father of Etan Patz, speaks to the media at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. — Reuters picStanley Patz, father of Etan Patz, speaks to the media at the state Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 8, 2015. — Reuters picNEW YORK, Oct 19 — Opening arguments began today in the retrial of a man accused of the 1979 abduction and murder of a six-year-old New York boy, a case that still haunts millions of American parents.

Six year-old Etan Patz vanished after leaving home to walk alone to his school bus stop. His body was never been found, and the boy was declared officially dead in 2001.

Judge Maxwell Wiley in Manhattan Supreme Court opened the retrial of the main suspect, 55 year-old Pedro Hernandez.

Hernandez has been in custody since 2012, when he confessed to police that he killed Patz in the basement of a New York grocery store before dumping his body out with the trash.

He later retracted his confession and pleaded not guilty at trial. He was neither acquitted nor sentenced when just one juror held out against the other 11 who were convinced of his guilt.

Judge Wiley also presided over the first trial, which was declared a mistrial.

The defence argued that Hernandez had an IQ of 70, which would put him in the bottom two per cent of the population.

At the time of Patz’s disappearance, Hernandez was 18 years old and worked at a grocery store near the bus stop.

Patz’s disappearance awakened Americans to the dangers of child abduction and fuelled a generation of hyper-vigilant parents terrified of letting their offspring out of their sight. — AFP

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