Jurors in Etan Patz Case Fall One Vote Shy of a Conviction

A judge declared a mistrial in the Etan Patz case on Friday, and jurors later said a lone holdout would not vote to convict Pedro Hernandez.

Comments: 235

  1. This is really sad. Another tragedy.

    My deepest condolences to the family of Etan Patz. May God bless them and may Etan's soul rest in peace.

  2. The law is very clear that you cannot convict on a confession alone. Perhaps, it was necessary to go through a trial to determine if there were enough evidence to support a conviction, but it would seem that there was not. What a waste of time, valuable resources, and emotions as people had to relive this terrible tragedy that is no closer to resolution today than when the trial started. It would be best to leave things be now. Maybe, Mr. Hernandez is the perpetrator, but, maybe, he is not. The trial did nothing to resolve that, and another trial would probably not resolve it either.

  3. You are wrong about the law and the use of a confession.
    Also, it was not a waste of time and resources (whatever that means).
    It would NOT be best to leave things be.

  4. It would be of tremendous value for you to cite precisely which law says that "you cannot convict on a confession alone". Federal law? State law? Local law? Specific New York law?
    Regardless of the worth of the other points you made, you would not want to mislead anyone and would only want to indicate a legal fact, applicable in this case, correct?

  5. At this point an independent assessment should be made of the means, methods and duration of the interrogations used to obtain the "confession" which appears to be in question by the jurors who were deadlocked on the issue after 3-weeks of deliberation.
    If an independent assessment reveals duress and prosecutorial misconduct used to obtain the confession, then this prosecution should end here despite the desire to bring resolution to this case.
    Too many innocent persons have served time in American prisons for crimes they did not commit, due to prosecutorial misconduct.
    However if additional evidence points beyond reasonable doubt to this defendant's guilt, THEN go after him again aggressively.

  6. This trial was nothing more than political grandstanding to close a high-profile case. By my count, 3 people so far have confessed to this crime and 3 others have heard said persons claim responsibility for the kidnapping.

    And tell me why again a 6-year old child is permitted by his parents to walk alone to, and stand there and wait for, a bus in (what was then) a pretty desolate part of the city.

  7. People didn't think about it as much back then.

  8. Plenty of 6 year olds go to the school bus by themselves and get there just fine. I'm sure the parents spend the last 30+ years blaming themselves. They don't need you to pile on.

  9. They hadn't invented helicopter parents yet! And guess what? Most kids learned how to tie their own shoes, and most of us grew up to be productive citizens and didn't get kidnapped and murdered walking to the schoolbus on our own blocks.

    This is a terrible story. The only worse story is the loss of childhood; kids used to be free to grow up as kids. It was fun.

  10. As someone who grew up with this case and has always wanted whoever abducted Etan found, it was obvious from the beginning that the evidence here was flimsy and that DA Vance was setting up a patsy to put a feather in his own cap. None of this story made any sense, and a convicted pedophile who knew the family has long even believed to have abducted Etan Patz It would be wise for DA Vance to set this case aside now that he has put this jury, these families and the general public through so much pain without getting the conviction he and the judge tried to force onto a mentally ill man.

  11. The conclusion of the article that the prosecution has only two options is incorrect. They certainly have the same evidence and could bring the same charge or a reduced charge. But more important is the fact of a new jury. There is no way they can dismiss the case. Keep your eyes and ears open.

  12. If the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable douby the defendant's guilt in this trial, I doubt they can prevail in another trial.

  13. The Central Park Five were convicted on confessions alone, with absolutely no DNA evidence to point to their guilt. Hopefully those days are over.

  14. I remember that case vividly in the era of rampant crime in NYC. I wanted those guys executed for their crimes, glad it did not happen. While those five were not saints, they were convicted of a crime they did not commit. How many such confessions are extracted all over the US daily? Shame of the Justice system.

  15. For the sake of Etan, I hope there will be a retrial. The Patz family and the city of New York deserve an answer. Time to regroup, restrategize how the evidence is presented and with the fresh eyes of a new jury, a verdict will be decided. Do your job, Stste of New York.

  16. So what you mean is, you hope they keep retrying this case until a jury returns a verdict that YOU like.

    Did it ever occur to you that this guy might be innocent? That he's a mentally unstable guy who was coerced into a confession via the Reid Technique. It perfectly fits the profile.

  17. Finding such a defendant guilty would only provide closure for the prosecutor and police, who need to clear cases as best hey can. This has led to innumerable false convictions, many here the only 'evidence' is the defendant's confession. People who murder children are usually pedophiles. There was no evidence that the defendant is in that category, but another suspect was. A conviction of Mr Hernandez would never satisfy the need for certainty, because of the lack of evidence and the existence of a this other, more sinister suspect.

  18. It has nothing to do with what I like, Phoenix M. Your theory aside, it has to do with the compelling fact that after being presented with 200 pieces of evidence and many hours of testimony (including psychiatric), 11 out of 12 jurors were convinced of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor's job is to be a voice for Etan. A new jury with fresh eyes can look at the evidence and do their job and make a decision, either way.

    As far as your idea of whom a verdict would provide closure for, CityTrucker, I believe that the family, loved ones and friends directly affected are best suited to determine that.

  19. I think the jury has it right. I have serious doubts about Mr Hernandez's confession. Usually most men who commit this type of crime have very lengthy records involving other similar offenses. It seems the prosecutors are determined to close this case any way possible. It is how we end up twenty years later finding out that Mr Hernandez was actually innocent. When in doubt do not convict.

  20. "the jury has it right"? You mean some juror(s). If all thought as you do, he is acquitted.

  21. Who's to say that odds are it would only be a matter of time before a jury could be put together that would find all the same evidence differently and vote to convict . . . simply because they subjectively think so.

    I'm not sure . . . Is that what's supposed to make our judicial system so great, or the thing that makes it ripe for abuse and manipulation?

    Judging by high profile cases with celebrity defendants who can hire dream-team lawyers, it seems it's more the latter. "Judge" is a title that should be considered loosely, maybe something like "Best-Guesser" comes closer to mind.

    Especially considering how such a partisan climate has taken over SCOTUS, all the puffery and lofty nobility judges have been accorded is really needed to put the system into realistic perspective. The same as well for cops, politicians, and all the other sacred cow institutions where its becoming evermore painfully aware that its just normal mortal dressed in fancy clothes, and nothing else.

    Maybe then people could start respecting them again if they only presumed to be what they were rather than what they pretended to be and putting themselves above others who they have no right to.

  22. This case has so many problems, how did they expect to bring this to a verdict? Don't believe the judge was right either in pushing over and over again. Felt sorry for the jury.

  23. I honor the juror who held out. The pressure on him or her must have been enormous.

  24. Treason is the only crime defined in the US Constitution.
    To convict for treason using a confession the Constitution requires that the confession be made in OPEN court.
    That same standard should apply in all criminal cases.
    Then there would be no question as to whether a confession were voluntary.

    The murder of Etan Patz or any child is a horrible crime but that does not mean standards of guilt should be diminished in order to make it easier to convict.

    I believe Hernandez at one point confessed to killing a black child .
    Etan Patz is white.
    For me if I were on the jury that would raise reasonable doubt about any of Hernandez' confessions.

  25. The presumed death of their child surely haunts the Patz family but a retrial will not serve the public good and, given the ambiguities of the case, could not reasonably be expected to bring closure to them. It appears political pressure, as much as a search for justice, dictated this trial. I have no way of knowing about the defendant's guilt or innocence but a retrial will siphon off the District Attorney's resources better spent elsewhere.

  26. With such an unreliable confession, no facts, no evidence and another, more convincing, but uncharged suspect, the prosecutor might have refrained from bringing the case forward. But he probably felt the need to proceed due to the notoriety of Etan's disappearance, which touched the hearts and fears of parents across the country. Its time now to allow it to rest with all the other unsolved cases of missing children. As hard as it is to accept, convicting Mr Hernandez would neither erase doubts, nor provide closure.

  27. Reply to City Trucker: 11 jurors, after months of weighing the evidence and weeks of deliberating, thought otherwise. I have not heard or reviewed the evidence so I cannot offer an opinion on guilt. That is for a jury of his peers.

  28. I find it very odd that this case was suddenly reopened with a dramatic excavation of a Soho basement in the weeks leading up to the Hernandez “confession.” Remember that before Hernandez, the police were looking hard at another suspect who had used the basement as a workshop in the seventies. When the basement yielded nothing, Hernandez was the next best thing. There have been others who confessed to this crime over the years. Why this guy? Why now? There is no physical evidence. Only a mentally disable man, easily manipulated. At the time the Patz case was reopened, and basement torn up and Hernandez scooped up, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was deciding whether to run for mayor, with polls in the field. Solving this celebrated case would have been a great kick-off. Would Ray Kelly pin a murder on this man just to get elected? Someone should ask him.

  29. This what happens when the DA bows to political pressure and brings a case to trial where the evidence doesn't warrant prosecution. We've seen the two extremes lately. Trayvon Martin went to trial and the politically motivated and appointed "Special Prosecutor" failed to obtain a guilty verdict. Same thing appears to be happening in Baltimore. Maybe Staten Island and Ferguson need to be looked at differently.

    DAs are damned if they do, and damned if they don't, but it takes courage to say no rather than put somebody through the rigors of a trial that can't be won.

  30. Trayvon Martin is dead - he never went to trial.

  31. It is time to give up and move on. The Patz family must be told that it is over but life goes on.

  32. sure, life goes on. So your 6-year-old child walked out of your house one day with his toy cars and was never seen again. Big deal. Life goes on, get over it already.
    Sheesh. A little compassion-challenged, are we, J.R.?

  33. By definition, when someone has been murdered, life does not go on. A society that denies this is broken.

  34. not "compassioned-challenged, k.g. Realistic and rational. People die everyday regardless of age or socioeconomic standing. Similarly, people are born everyday to replace those who have passed on. It's okay to be saddened by one's departure, however, reasonable and intelligent beings realize that time goes on regardless of one's feelings or emotional state.

  35. Let us recall that in a criminal trial the standard for finding a defendant guilty is that the trier of fact must find the defendant committed the crime "beyond a reasonable doubt".

    In this case 36 years after the crime took place, when evidence is stale, where you have two suspects, both of whom seem to be a little off in regard to mental capacity, it's unlikely that the standard for finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be achieved.

    This result could have reasonably been anticipated. I feel bad for the family that they had to get dragged through this horror yet again. Thanks Cy Vance.

  36. Feels bad but I have to agree--I think the jury holdout was right on the law, there just wasn't solid enough corroboration.

  37. It's tragic this case ever made it to trial.

    A "confession" that takes 5-6 hours to rehearse without the camera on, and for which there is zero forensic evidence to support it's many conflicting versions.

    There is no possibility this defendant committed this crime, because the premises were thoroughly searched at the time of the crime, and nothing was found. This is not a clever man. Which is why they zeroed in on him after 30 some years.

    A conviction is all that mattered here, and innocence be damned.

    At what point do we recognize that false coerced confessions are a reality, and stop letting police extract them, and prosecutors employ the fruits of that poisonous tree?

    I think prosecutors and police chiefs and other politicians should be absolutely prohibited from appearing on TV or speaking in the media and taking credit for cases that are prosecuted.

    We have almost certainly subjected innocent people to the death penalty because of grandstanding DAs and politicians bragging about, and more concerned with their 'win-loss' trial records, than actual justice.

    Wrongful convictions are a tragedy. It's time to start putting safeguards in place that prevent it so much as possible, and correct mistakes as quickly as possible.

    The Gov Rick Perry's of the world can blithely ignore their grotesque errors. The rest of us can do better.

    I repeat, I'm shocked and dismayed this case against this defendant on this evidence ever made it into a courtroom.

  38. A conviction would have brought the DA almost certain re-election. There is something to say for having such officials appointed by governments, rather than elected. This would surely decrease the number of pointless trials aimed at showing how tough on crime the DA is.

  39. Re: "I think prosecutors and police chiefs and other politicians should be absolutely prohibited from appearing on TV or speaking in the media and taking credit for cases that are prosecuted."

    I think you're right, but I'm not holding my breath. What most people don't seem to grasp is that even for little cases--in fact, especially for little cases--the police don't consider it their job to find the truly guilty party; they consider it their job to find someone they can plausibly accuse, whether or not he is truly guilty. The prosecutor does not consider it his job to convict the truly guilty party; he considers it his job to convict the person charged. The general public and the media do not presume innocence; they presume guilt. Under these conditions, the chances that a given person convicted is truly guilty is about fifty percent (either he is or he isn't).

  40. This is another demonstration that when the police or prosecutors try to control the narrative, they undermine their own case. If the interrogation had been taped, we'd have a much better idea of whether Hernandez was led to his confession. Hopefully, if nothing else, this result will teach the value of transparency.

  41. Four wasted months, millions of wasted judicial dollars...and all for a coerced confession.

    Any decent cop/prosecutor can extract a confession. Several hours or days in a room with a bunch of people screaming of your guilt, and how can anyone not start believing they did it?

    The ancient Hebrews got it right way back when. In the Talmudic criminal law system, the accused could not confess. It would not be accepted as evidence. The judicial system had to prove the crime without the accused's confession. And eyewitnesses who were found to be lying were promptly executed. Seems they had it right a long time ago. Considering how many are falsely accused and convicted, often on coerced confession or fellow inmate testimony, it might be time to consider so retro progress.

    Mr. Hernandez may be guilty, or not. But in all likelihood he's not. But he makes a nice scapegoat for community and parents, desperate to affix cause to effect, and will do so on a reed of evidence so thin that effectively it depends on belief.

  42. How many people would testify if they knew that if the court didn't believe them, they'd be executed? Zero.

  43. You make the false assumption that they are given a choice to testify. They are not.

  44. "Then, he said, he wrapped the boy’s diminutive body in a plastic garbage bag and a box. He carried the box out of the basement and walked a block and a half, leaving it in a subterranean passageway between two buildings on Thompson Street, he said."

    If this were true, then wouldn't someone have discovered this box with the murdered child in it not too very long after it was left? The fact that his body was never found certainly leaves reasonable doubt that Hernandez is not guilty. Sure, it's possible that he disposed of the child's body in some other way but we're still left with that reasonable doubt. Poor kid, may he rest in peace and may his parents be able to find some semblance of peace of mind.

  45. Again, in much of the commentary I have seen over the months, people show that they do not understand the meaning of the word "reasonable" in a legal context. It means founded upon a reason that one can articulate. It does not mean, "well $5 for a whole pizza is pretty reasonable." In this case, reasonable doubt - doubts based upon a stated reason - were rife.
    https://emcphd.wordpress.com

  46. What r u talking about. You weren't in jury room so how do you know what reasonable doubts that jury have. I really resent you religious people presupposing that somehow b/c you wear the collar you are entitled to an opinion to spare the life of a guilty verdict of 92%. Merely b/c one person voted not guilty is not reasonable doubt.

  47. Your prejudiced rant aside, you clearly didn't understand what I posted. I reflected on the word REASONABLE in a legal context.
    https://emcphd.wordpress.com

  48. Having served on only one jury, it was my experience that the other jurist seemed to think that "beyond reasonable doubt" meant something close to "logically impossible".. the test of reasonable doubt seem to be "well, I'm a reasonable person, and I can doubt that , so it must be a reasonable doubt."

  49. looks like we are all in agreement on this one. this "case" never should have gone to trial. if it were not for the incessant media coverage of this tragedy, it never would have. move on media and patz family. sorry for your loss, but the killer got away with it.

  50. I've got an odd connection to the Etan Patz case. I was a year younger than him, going to the same school downtown, P.S. 234 (or PS 3 Annex before that). I'd occasionally walk there from PS 3, about a mile, when I ran late for the bus. I recall quite well the day he vanished, and all our parents were hyperprotective for quite awhile until we were a bit older and more capable of being defensive on the streets of NYC (which were considerably more dangerous then).

    So Etan Patz could have been me instead, pretty easily. I'd like to see his killer convicted and brought to justice, a lifetime in jail and bad times galore. But I can't be sure that this particular crazy person is the killer, and nobody can. There's not a shred of physical evidence, the entire case revolved around his confessions, and he's insane.

    I think it'd be best to institutionalize Mr. Hernandez until he's judged to be sane, or for life, whichever. He's clearly too crazy to be allowed back out on his own, if he fantasized about killing a child, and doesn't know for sure if he did or not, he can't be trusted by society any more.

    But I don't think the case will necessarily get solved, like the flight that went down in the Indian Ocean, clearly intentionally crashed by the pilot, the bodies and debris will never be found. If we ever found any decayed piece, it would tell us nothing. Sometimes the only possible closure has to come from within, from letting go of one's grief.

  51. I've learned from doing jury duty multiple times that unless one hears all the evidence as the jury has one can't really judge whether the jury reached the correct decision. In this case the evidence convinced 11 out of 12. I feel compelled to trust those 11.

  52. Having served on a criminal jury myself, I can tell you that most people have little to no ability to grapple with the concept of "beyond reasonable doubt". The double negative completely throws them intellectually.

  53. My condolences to the Patz family.

  54. Something else just occurred to me. Mr. Hernandez claimed, "... he wrapped the boy’s diminutive body in a plastic garbage bag and a box. He carried the box out of the basement and walked a block and a half, leaving it in a subterranean passageway between two buildings on Thompson Street, he said."

    This is not possible. This would have taken place in broad daylight, before noon, in a fairly well-trafficked area. Etan Patz weighed about 40 - 50 lbs at least, and that's an obviously heavy burden. People at the bodega (like his boss), people on the street, garbage men picking up the box, would have seen something, remembered something. And had the box been there for a day, the smell alone would have led people to investigate it. Since this part of his confession doesn't make any logical sense, I doubt the rest is accurate either.

  55. Those are good points, and they are exactly what a defense attorney would make. The Times has, unavoidably, condensed a four-month trial into one article, so there is a lot of missing information. Read the trial transcript or wait for the book ... :-)

  56. Yes, it certainly sounds fishy. By the way, is there any real evidence that the boy was murdered at all? Do we really have any reason to believe he didn't just runaway somewhere? Could he be alive today?

  57. Millions and millions of dollars spent without a decision. All taxpayer dollars. There is something drastically wrong with our justice system, and it starts with cases like this.

  58. Explain.

  59. I haven't followed the trial in minute detail (although I do remember when, as a child myself, Etan Patz was murdered) BUT I can relate to the plight of a deadlocked jury. I was once part of a criminal jury which, after an initial vote, was split 6-6. After a week of deliberations, the vote began to wane in favor of conviction, 7-5, 8-4 until we were deadlocked at 11-1. Yes folk, I was the lone holdout. I will never know if the man was guilty or not BUT I WAS AND REMAIN firmly of the opinion that there was enough reasonable doubt to acquit. After all, we had started at a 6-6 vote and I alone wasn't able to "pass over the Rubicon" to finally convict. It was a HARD HARD decision and the pressures within a jury room are extremely intense. I don't know if this man is guilty or not but I applaud the juror who held to his beliefs and now it's up to the criminal justice system to either retry, modify the charge or let the accused go for lack of a conviction.

  60. I have served on two juries where one person was a holdout, in each case it was to find the defendant guilty while the rest of us had voted not-guilty almost from the beginning. In both instances, the holdouts admitted after much prodding that they actually did believe the person was not guilty but, one said she wanted to prolong the discussion because she was lonely and coming to the jury room every day was "something nice to do." In the other case, the holdout said he enjoyed the lunches provided for the jurors and would like to continue to meet as long as possible so he could get fed for free! On another trial in which I served as foreman, one juror held us up for three days because he kept insisting that policemen never. never lie and therefore would not accept the belief held by the rest of us that there were so many discrepancies in the officer's testimony that we couldn't believe anything he said. These experiences make me wonder how often the holdout juror is actually "holding out" for more than just the sake of his or her conscience.

  61. Your comment is much appreciated, you described the actual conditions within a jury room. Being a juror on a case with litanies of "reasonable doubt", it takes a person with integrity, courage, and the intelligence to see the law clearly.
    No one can imagine the pressure from fellow jurors, and in this case the judge applied pressure, along with media and family. To say" there is reasonable doubt" is why we need the provision; to maintain justice. Far too often people allow their emotions to overwhelm them, such as the juror in the Patz case who thought it was her duty to threaten Hernandez with a guilty conviction. She took it personal, can anyone imagine what she was like in the juror room? A woman, perhaps a mother?
    Yes your efforts should be lauded in the case you mentioned, along with the juror in the Patz case....

  62. Take him to Texas and hang him. this murder is so bad and so shocking at the time it occurred - it galvanized the nation. I'm disgusted.

  63. John Wayne movies notwithstanding, criminal defendants in Texas also enjoy a presumption of innocence unless guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. From the description in the article, the case presented didn't come close to that threshold and I doubt it would have had a different result here. Neither the shocking nature of a murder nor the extent to which it galvanized a country are evidence of the identity of the perpetrator. Horrible, horrible crime, of that there can be no doubt.

  64. That attitude has led to the execution of innocent people in Texas.

  65. Arnie--
    But what if he isn't guilty of anything more than memtal instability? There is absolutely no physical evidence, and he has no history of child abuse or aggressive behavior.

    The severity of the crime shouldn't make us want someone convicted, no matter if guilty. Perhaps he is...but we have no way of knowing. he provided nothing that the police did not already know--just as most mentally unstable confessors don't.

  66. I sure couldn't tell if he was guilty or not, from the news coverage of the trial.

    A question that I've found useful in analysing wrongful convictions is to ask "Suppose in a few years further evidence comes forward that establishes someone else did it? Does the evidence against the accused tell us that's not reasonably possible because it's obvious that the accused did it?"

    The evidence in this case sure doesn't sound like it passed that test. If we find out someone else did it in the future, we won't have to ask "How can we reconcile this with the strength of the case against Hernandez?" There would be no mystery to resolve. We can see perfectly well how it could happen: the confession could be worthless, as many confessions are. And this confession didn't meet the minimum standards for not being worthless: the police didn't record the interrogation prior to the confession. How do we know the confession wasn't complete garbage, like so many other apparently convincing confessions? We don't.

  67. Vance should have never brought this case. Hernandez is mentally unstable with no history of child abuse and would have confessed to anything.

    Jose Ramos, a known imprisioned child molester familiar with Etan, who the Patz sued in civil court and was found liable, is very likely the perpetrator of this horrendous crimes.

  68. All the commenters who presume to know the facts of this case or who compare it to other cases are doing so without any facts, actually.

  69. This is a very difficult outcome. Perhaps the American judicial system should look at majority opinion of jurors (2/3s of the panel) as they have in England. That one juror could hold up a verdict like this just such a horrible waste of time and effort. Some countries use the "unfit to stand trial" determination before proceeding to trial when mental status is an issue.

  70. Hold up a verdict? You'd rather have the person just agree with the others? For the sake of time and effort? Wow, I hope you admit this if you are ever called to jury duty, so they can let you go home as unqualified.

  71. One problem with our judicial system is that it so often is run by people more worried about time and effort than about truth.

  72. As far as I am concerned, if 1 of out of 12 jurors holds out, THAT'S REASONABLE DOUBT.

  73. We all are appalled at the crime. But our judiciary at this point has worked. Enough reasonable doubt to acquit. Butter safe than sorry. Most people would just say kill him. They are probably republicans who think America's police departments are doing a fine job and can do no wrong.

  74. They did not acquit; it was a hung jury.

  75. As an attorney, I am a little surprised to see so many people who are criticizing the jury members who voted to convict the defendant or questioning the strength of the prosecution case. Eleven jurors were evidently convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They sat through a lengthy trial, viewed the evidence, including the confession and decided the case. It is dangerous to make firm opinions of trials based upon snippets of information, such as that contained in news reports. Even an excellent source such as the New York Times must necessarily because of space limitations as well as the inability to convey the actual impact of testimony can only convey the briefest glimpse of a trial, something that never comes close to what the actual participants, including the jury, experience in eth courtroom. Mr. Hernandez will surely be tried again, but the fact that eleven jurors voted for conviction should answer critics of that decision.

  76. It's not clear from this article if it was 11-1 the first time the judge sent them back--has that been disclosed? Unfortunately I think there have been cases where decisions have been swayed not only by evidence, but by jurors desire to escape the jury room.

  77. When we start seeing fewer wrongly accused people in prison, and when we start seeing prosecutors openly permitting retrials when new DNA evidence is found, that's when I'll say 11 is enough. For now, I'm grateful there's 12.

  78. As an attorney, you should be ashamed of yourself. Look up unanimous and reflect upon the sheepish nature of people. The system has rules. We are told to respect every variation of unlikely verdict. This is one.

  79. Why on earth wasn't the interrogation videotaped? The potential problems with interrogations are well-documented. Such a simple measure, in place in many jurisdictions, would benefit the justice system immensely by taking away a specious defense argument in cases where a confession is solid, and giving a prosecutor cover to drop a bad case when the police overreach.

  80. Agreed. I usually side with the prosecution in 11-1 cases, but failure to videotape the interrogation is inexcusable,motivated by a desire to be able to shade the truth or lie outright. If police are motivated to straighten out their act, we owe the holdout juror a debt of gratitude.

  81. I'm sure the holdout will be identified and questioned by the press within 24 hours.I hope he or she is ready to defend their position.

  82. Why because there is a mob ready to burn their house down for not convicting a mentally ill man on a shaky confession?

  83. The holdout has not duty to do so. She or he has already performed the public service and doesn't owe us anything else. I would rather a juror vote on their conviction than send a person to jail just to avoid difficult questions.

  84. I'm quite sure he or she is ready: I had doubts, and the reasons for those doubts are these: 1)... 2)... 3)... ...

  85. My thoughts are with the Patz family for a verdict of guilty would have given them some kind of closure after all these years. However, I see Mr. Hernandez as a poor soul not guilty of this terrible crime. I believe our justice system has been served well.

  86. So often, I suspect, the urge to give the victim's family closure can lead to a false conviction. I'm glad it didn't happen this time.

  87. I believed the case against Jose Antonio Ramos to be more compelling than this one. Ramos confessed to abducting (although not killing) Patz and he has been incarcerated for child molestation charges (unrelated to the Patz case) for most of the last 25 years. Ramos dated the girl the Patz family hired to walk their son to school. Unlike Hernandez, Ramos has always been compos mentis.

  88. This goes to speak to NYPD investigation/ interrogation;also D.A. procedure.

    Initially, a retired Super of the building the Patz's lived in, knew the Patz family, including Etan. He admitted to letting the child work with him to earn some change for himself. NYPD detectives not only unjustly targeted the man after years of having his statement, they also leaked to the media he was a suspect. The man's daughter, interviewed, said very calmly: "my father had nothing to do with this, it's ridiculous". Fortunately, he was dropped as a suspect.
    Why? The D.A. knew they had nothing. Then came Hernandez, a clearly disturbed man. Who probably had no legal representation as the police with pressure from the D.A. contrived a story from him after hours of interrogation; from a delusional man.

    Remember the "Central Park Jogger"? The victim still believes that those exonerated are the perpetrators. The NYPD and D.A. want her to believe so. A seemingly rational intelligent woman suspended her judgment based on coercion from NYPD and D.A.; "fabricator's".
    The juror who couldn't bring himself to vote guilty should be lauded for his integrity and intelligence. He sees the evidence as weak and circumstantial. That the police violated basic rights to get a confession off of Hernandez. The D.A./ police benefit from the notoriety of this case.
    Being mentally disturbed doesn't exempt or excuse anyone from punishment, but if the NYPD/D.A. wrongfully charged him; another crime was committed...

  89. The SF attorney who commented below is on the absolute right track. Eleven jurors voted guilty, after 3 weeks of deliberating the entire trial and all the evidence. One juror held out, and he or she will have to live with that bizarre decision. No one outside the jury room, let alone the trial itself, can make an informed decision about the verdict. We all have opinions about the case, but when 11 out of 12 citizens who swore an oath to judge the defendant, according to the evidence and the judge's instructions, come up with a guilty verdict, one has to question the thought process and reasoning of the lone holdout. What was he or her agenda? I hope for the sake of the family and the system this guy is re-tried.

  90. I think that lone juror is thinking exactly what you are thinking: I cannot live with myself if I vote guilty, when I don't think he is, just to "go along" with the other jurors.

    If anything, the EASY way out would have been to go along with the other 11.

    This 12th juror deserves our respect.

  91. What was he or her agenda?

    How about making the right decision.

    Whether Patz actually committed the crime is a FACT, not a POPULARITY vote.

  92. Right on, Henry. The point isn't conformity. It's integrity. False confessions are common after prolonged interrogation. Judging from what I read, there wasn't enough evidence to convict the defendant. I'm a little shocked there was only one voting to acquit.

  93. Having just served on a jury myself this week, and convicting a man this afternoon, I can feel for the jury deliberating for so long, and having a person holding out and just not convinced of guilt. Remember folks, it is the state's burden to PROVE the person on trial for a crime is the right one.The defendant doesn't have to prove a thing. I was surprised in my trial how shoddy some of the police work and district attorney work was. Not videotaping this guy's confession in this day and age was just stupid.

  94. I wasn't a juror and I didn't hear the evidence, so I won't say that the jury made the right or the wrong decision in this case. However, I am very sceptical of confessions that are not supported by other evidence. Many defendants who were found guilty on the basis of a confession have later been exonerated.

  95. The jury made no decision, right or wrong. No conviction, no acquittal. That's what a "hung jury" is. Now a decision must be made whether or not to retry the defendant.

  96. This trial was probably necessary, if only to thoroughly air the case with evidence given under penalty of perjury. It's "Twelve Angry Men" and a holdout. Without the trial, there'd be no closure. Now there is - or should be. Thank God for the holdout.

  97. There's a difference. Didn't the holdout in Sidney Lumet's "Twelve Angry Men," Juror #8 played by Henry Fonda, convince all the others to change their votes to "not guilty"? This is not the case in the Patz trial.

  98. I am surprised that only a single juror voted not to convict. We understand that the Patz family and even the public would want justice for the child, and some form of closure. But not without evidence.

    You cannot possibly say that this fellow was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A man with obvious mental issue confesses to the crime? That is all that is required? There is no physical evidense, even after Hernandez confessed--he gave them no new evidence, and evidently did not know the piece of evidence that the police normally withhold to separate the real from the phony confessors.

    It should frighten us all that juries vote to convict without compelling evidense. We all have no way of being certain of Hernandez's guilt or innocence. Doesn't no irrefutable evidence mandate that a person not be convicted?

  99. this is why we have twelve jurors and require a unanimous vote. Perhaps he is guilty, maybe he is not. We already have too many found guilty who are not- who endure a life in prison, who are executed

  100. Guilty or not, Hernandez should be in trouble for confessing a crime he either did or did not do. Say he did not murder the kid, look how much time and money has been lost do to his "confession".

  101. I'd be very sorry to see the lone holdout on the jury made into a pariah. Confessions are not very reliable as evidence, even if we find them very compelling. And it's easy to see how a man with mental health issues might even believe he'd killed a child if he'd been working right near where the child had disappeared, especially if you consider the media frenzy that swept that area right after the case became public.

    I lived a few blocks north of there at the time. I remember being asked over and over again by groups of teenagers who were searching for the little boy if I'd seen him. I can see how that might have badly effected a person who had a tenuous grasp on reality.

    None of us were in the courtroom day after day. The jury was. If this one person wasn't swayed by the evidence (or lack thereof) who's to say that person is wrong? Perhaps he or she is the only one who got it right.

  102. This is a travesty of justice. That old bromide that "The justice system worked" cannot be taken seriously here. It didn't. A lone hold-out--against incontrovertible evidence of guilt--is in no way any measure of justice. Prayers for a retrial. . . . as soon as possible.

  103. What "incontrovertible evidence?" The confession of a mentally ill defendant after six hours of (untaped) questioning? That's all they had.

  104. Incontrovertible? There's no body, or material evidence. There's only a confession, which can be easily coerced, especially from someone w/ a history of mental illness.

  105. "Incontrovertible" is obviously too strong a description.

  106. Prosecutors had a difficult case. They had no body, no physical evidence, no witnesses. The only evidence they had was the supposed confession by the defendant, which he supposedly gave after over six hours of interrogation, and the testimony of others who supposedly heard this man confess to murdering this little boy. This was not a strong case for prosecution, at least at this time. I wonder if prosecutors had waited a little longer, and had they given law enforcement more time to try to build the case and locate additional evidence, if we would have had a different result.

    This is the nature of our jury system - you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that means all jurors agreeing, not 'most'.

  107. It's been 30 years. How much longer do you propose they wait?

  108. I commend the one holdout, and the other jurors.

    Jury duty is no easy task, and when a man's life is a stake, there is no heavier burden. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, I'm sure that we can all agree with Blackstone's formulation: "better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent party suffer".

    Whether Mr. Hernandez is said innocent party, it was only for the jury to decide: however, based on the strength of the evidence presented, I would have joined that one hold-out.

  109. As the mother of a murdered child who has followed this trial on a daily basis, all I can do is send my condolences to Etan's parents. I know their rage, but if I even tried to approach that, this comment would never be published. I hope Hernandez will be tried again, and convicted, because I believe with Stanley Patz that he is guilty.

  110. Stanley Patz was equally certain that Jose Ramos killed his son and in a civil proceeding, where there was an admittedly lower standard of proof, Ramos was found liable for Etan's death.

    Pedro Hernandez is not the second person or entity that has been accused of this killing; he's the fourth. Othniel Miller was a suspect and the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, was also accused of this crime.

    The certainty of a grieving parent and the conviction of law enforcement officials turn out to be a poor measure of guilt or innocence.

  111. Eleven to one for conviction. The guy walks. That's our system. It's clear the only entity you have to answer to is your conscience. Hope everyone's is clear.

  112. Good for the lone hold out. Never allow people to coerce you into abandoning your gut instinct.

  113. Do you believe the determination of guilt or innocence should come down to gut instinct?

  114. Gut instinct is not reasonable doubt.

  115. There are many ways to think about this jury verdict, and we have seen most of them expressed in comments already made. Whether this verdict was "right" or "wrong," is of little consequence. And we will never have any way really knowing. But I think we should give due and fair respect for the ordeal of the hold-out juror and acknowledge the courage and intellectual integrity that his/her circumstances demanded. While often imperfect, this is an illustration of the strength of the jury system and our criminal justice procedures.

  116. This verdict shows both the strength and weakness of our jury system because a rogue juror can cause a hung jury. Unfortunately some jurors may be biased and some may lack the intellect to make a proper judgement. I'm not saying that was the case here, but would point out the Oregon and Louisiana required only 10 of 12 votes for a conviction.

  117. Yep. You're absolutely right. We have no way of knowing if the verdict was right or wrong.

    And that's what "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is about. We can't tell if he's guilty or not. Sounds like the "beyond a reasonable doubt" threshold was not passed.

  118. Words cannot express the respect I have for the integrity and courage of the holdout.

  119. and nobody found the body in this "subterranean passageway between two buildings on Thompson Street"??? Seems like there was only one juror using any logical reasoning here.

  120. The lone holdout juror demonstrated a lot of integrity and strength. None of us can know all of the evidence presented, but from the outside, there is not a compelling case. Total lack of evidence. Mentally ill defendant. Most of the public has no idea how many mentally ill individuals falsely confess to crimes - especially ones with big media hype.

    With no evidence other than the confession of a mentally ill person - even one who was in the area at the time of the crime - there is substantial reasonable doubt.

    Heartbreaking ... but I don't see how this man can authentically be found guilty.

  121. As much as I feel for the Patz's, this trial should have never happened. I'm surprised that it was only one holdout. How on earth could anyone vote to convict Hernandez based solely on his dubious confession?

  122. I've never gotten the impression that American juries apply a lot of skepticism to what the prosecution tells them. Certainly, you can read accounts of wrongful convictions in which it seems ridiculous the jury could have convicted on the evidence presented. Furthermore, it's well known that juries tend to view eyewitness evidence as being much more reliable than it actually is. Same thing with confessions and expert witness testimony. Juries come across as being fairly credulous and compliant.

  123. The lone juror resisted what must have been tremendous pressure in a sad and deeply emotional case in order to ensure that the defendant was not convicted. Details in this story suggest that the juror's stubbornness was motivated by well considered opinion, decency and courage. THAT is a real American.

  124. In a situation like this, the judge should be empowered to question the recalcitrant juror to establish if his/her position is based on anything other than emotion or bias. If not, it should be set aside. Or at least it should guide the prosecutor in deciding whether to proceed.

  125. An interesting thought. Raises a question: The word "recalcitrant" means uncooperative. In what way do we determine recalcitrance? Is it not possible that in the view of the hold-out, the 11 other jurors were not cooperating? That THEY were being recalcitrant?
    "Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth." - Mahatma Gandhi
    https://emcphd.wordpress.com

  126. Ack, no. We WANT jurors to have the courage to "hold out" if they have doubts. If you know that if you're the lone hold-out, you'll be badgered and pressured by the judge, that is tremendous pressure to conform, to go with whatever the group thinks. That is not the way the jury system is supposed to work. The judge is definitely not supposed to harass dissenting jurors.

  127. Well I'm glad you're not a judge. What you are describing is coercion. "Hey man, get with the program" is not the basis for a just system of jurisprudence.

  128. I grieve for the boy whom no one has found. I greive for the family members who lost their treasured child.

    I am incensed at the police who secretly, without video record, conducted a brutal interrogation leading a mentally incapacitated senior citizen to confess a crime he probably did not commit.

    How many USA death-row inmates have been wrongly convicted and wrongly executed by mistaken juries using laws of the US criminal justice system?
    Think: DNA reversals of death row inmates, tens of thousands and counting mistakenly convicted by laws & ignorance enforced in the US criminal justice system.

    Finally, I am one who has championed abandonment of the criminal justice system for the adoption of a rehabillitation system that does not punish crimes but seeks incarceration for therapy instead, releasing those who benefit enough from psychotherpy, re-socialization in a humane environment, and pharmaceutical prescriptions to be released, and then through a carefully constructed re-socialization program, to re-integrate into society slowly, or sent back for more therapy.

    The Police, the Judge, & Prosecuters positions force them to be attack-trained legal dogs to keep their jobs. I blame the US Criminal Justice System which overlooks Professor Paul Heisenberg's classic studies establishing that crimes punished only reinforce repetition of the crime by the criminal.

    Discard the US Criminal Justice System and replace punishment with therapy.

    [email protected]

    I

  129. Psychotherapy - therapy is not a science. There are no statistics to support rehabilitation of criminal behavior. We cannot legally force people to take medication, a classic reaction by people who need it when they feel better. We now have drug and anger courts to treat those who commit to change. We are moving in the right direction. There are many criminals who have never suffered consequences for their behavior. They need consequences as well as treatment.

  130. Great idea, that'll be $10,000 apiece. Also you ignore the retributive purpose of punishment - human nature requires vengeance, at least abstracted through the justice system.

  131. Members of the Supreme Court, presumably the strongest legal minds in the country, often split 5-4--and that's throughout history. Why should we expect a petit jury to be unanimous? While some say it's better that 10 guilty men go free than for 1 innocent fellow to be jailed, remember that 11-1 can work both ways. A jury split 11 for not guilty and 1 for guilty can frustrate many an innocent defendant.

  132. It is unanimous because the penalty is so drastic.

    It is 99 guilty men, by the way: it is that important, and the government is that powerful.

  133. You misunderstand what the Supreme Court does. It is the highest appellate court, that generally deals with appeals of lower appellate court decision. It deals with constitutional issues, not reviewing evidence and assessing the factual merits of criminal and civil cases already dealt with by lower courts.

    Supreme Court proceedings usually involve lawyers presenting the constitutional merits of their cases and esoteric points of case law, not arguing facts. The justices, who are the ultimate constitutional authorities in the judicial branch, question the lawyers closely and often engage in sharp debate about relevant constitutional issues (except for Clarence Thomas, who seems not to feel the need to question, debate anything).

    Constitutional issues are complex, multifaceted and rarely fully right or wrong. It is appropriate for the court to rule by majority, not unanimously.

  134. I do NOT commend the hold out juror.
    I heard him quoted on NPR saying he had issues over Hernandez' Miranda Rights. Are you kidding me?

    Stubbornness over a cheap political issue, a truly minute point specifically in relation to this case? With so much terrible baggage at stake, so much need for closure? I think this was an incredibly immature and hurtful position to take. I hope one day that juror can understand the consequences of his action.

    Unbelievable.

  135. So he's already talking to the press. I don't understand what issues he had over Mr. Hernandez Miranda Rights. Did he say what the issues were?

  136. You consider Miranda Rights a "cheap political issue"? I can't comment on their application here, but in principle I would vehemently disagree.

  137. @Steve Mumford: "I heard him quoted on NPR saying he had issues over Hernandez' Miranda Rights."

    So what were those "issues"?

  138. No evidence, no body, no nothing except a confession?

    If you're reading this, holdout juror: I support you.

    According to the Innocence Project, confessions are obtained in more than 25% of cases where the convicted are later exonerated by DNA. Good grief how many high-profile cases have we seen? And people complaining of a "travesty of justice" want to send a guy to prison for life based on nothing else?

    It won't bring Ethan back.

  139. Etan, not Ethan. My apologies.

  140. Why would Hernandez mention killing a child in front of strangers, and especially a prayer group if guilt was not troubling him?

    So the collaborating testimony from people he spoke with in the past seems to be sufficient enough to cast no reasonable doubt, which 11 jurors might agree..

  141. Sending Hernandez to jail would be based on his confession. Bear in mind that while the Innocence Project has an admirable record of exonerating 25% of cases, that still leaves 75% who are not innocent.

  142. I've served on juries, multiple. I've served on a murder case. If recent history is any example what I said will happen to this juror will happen. I don't like it any more than many of you do but that is how the press works these days. This lone holdout will become the story.

  143. Sadly the Patz's family anguish is prolonged due to one jury's inability or unwillingness to convict Hernandez for reasons the public may never know. However this does not exonerate him from murdering Etan Patz, because the evidence is quiet compelling, even after all these years.

    Hopefully that Cyrus Vance Jr. will make the right decision and retry Hernandez very soon.

  144. There is no evidence, only his confession.

  145. Wait a second. Coerced confession? The defendant voluntarily confessed multiple times to relatives, church members, etc. over the years to killing a child when he worked in NY. We know the place where he worked was down the street from where Etan Patz was abducted on the route to the school bus. And he worked there when Etan Patz disappeared. This information prompted the police to bring this man in and question him. It is an entirely different matter to confess to the police when you could be charged with murder. Why would a guilty person ever confess in 6 hours or a 106 hours?

    Of course there is no physical evidence 36 years later because the body was never recovered. No one here commenting heard all of the evidence at trial. I don't know how I would have voted without hearing all the evidence. But the lone juror may have just disregarded all the evidence based on a "feeling" or intuition, which is equally liable to be true or false. That's why we have trials with evidence and testimony.

    The prosecutor should have brought this case to trial.

    I feel very sorry for the family once again.

  146. Lot's to ponder and the jury did three weeks worth.

    Why do police do such odd things like interrogate someone for hours with no record? Works against them.

    But, for me, his confession to his friend, an act to unburden himself out of the blue with no prior discussion with this friend of the killing, is the most telling fact here.

    For that reason alone I would vote to convict.
    Why would anyone unload information like that?

  147. Bingo, and I am sure this rightfully persuaded 11 or the 12 jurors.

  148. The lack of any recording of the 2012 police interrogation of Hernandez looks in retrospect like a terrible error. By that time, the police must have had the capacity to record and archive interviews with suspects. Why didn't they, especially given the almost complete lack of evidence in the case, except for Hernandez's own words? This may have been the downfall of the entire case against Hernandez.

    The defense probably had little trouble casting doubt on the confession that resulted from 6 hours of interrogation. Who knows what went on in the room and what underhanded tactics may have been used?

    On the other hand, maybe the police interrogators were methodical, professional and thorough - and finally got to the truth of the crime.

    We may never know. Is is too much to hope that from now on, for the sake of justice, all such interrogations will be documented and preserved?

  149. By the way, for all those here supporting the concept of 11 to 1 being conclusive of guilt, have you seen the play or movie "12 Angry Men"? You can view it on youtube at this link

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR3eE24F8Yo

    And dozens of others, seems to keep getting taken down and reposted. If ya have 85 minutes I'd suggest watching it. It starts out with a jury, all men of course because that was the law, and they're split 11 to 1 for a guilty verdict.

    So after seeing that, feel free to declaim that 11 to 1 is conclusive, but harbor a reasonable doubt.

  150. I was on a jury in a murder trial with 11 others who constituted a bit of a little lynch mob, Their reasoned argument was to shout at me for 5 days saying "he's guilty", which wasn't really the issue, The choice was murder or manslaughter and I thought most likely the latter, certainly a reasonable doubt, and the difference between about an 8 or 10 year sentence and a 25 or 35 year one. I hung the jury despite taking a great deal of abuse by the others. Our juries need as many watchdogs as we can get.

  151. The first thing that came to my mind was "12 Angry Men". I saw it again recently and concluded that the "lone holdout" was a product of a bygone era, if it had ever existed. I am glad I was wrong and I commend the holdout for his courage and integrity. I am also surprised and gratified to read that his fellow jurors respected him. which was certainly not the case in the fictional "12 Angry Men".

  152. Some of the commenters are concerned that the Patz family would have had "closure" had this man been found guilty.
    Closure is one of those psycho-babble terms that has no basis in reality.
    When one loses a child there is never closure. There is an open, gaping hole in the heart of those who deeply loved that child. Regardless of a conviction, closure is a seemingly trendy way of saying the hurt will end. It doesn't. Why is it that everything needs to be tied into a neat little package and have "closure"?
    Please, we need to rethink the overuse of a term that has little bearing on the gamut of gut wrenching emotions a mother or father has and will have until they, too, take their final breath.

  153. I've been on many juries. I believe it's my duty as a citizen to serve. Anyway, on one case as we went around at the beginning asking everyone what their initial verdict seems to be. One juror said..."He wouldn't be on trial if he wasn't guilty!" Almost like a scene in a bad movie. The man next to me groaned, "Oh God, we'll be here forever!"

  154. I went through the jury selection process in which the defendant's lawyer asked us a simple question to start - "If you were asked to give a verdict right now, what would it be? How many would say 'guilty'?"

    A number of people raised their hands. They were dismissed.

    INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. So many people have no concept of what that means, and not one of them should ever serve on a jury.

  155. The juror who held out for an acquittal should be commended for his or her courage and understanding of our legal system. A confession standing alone is simply not sufficient to convict someone of murdering a child 30 years ago. Confessions (like eye-witness testimony) are notoriusly unreliable, especially when coming from a mentally ill person who has been interrogated by police officers for several hours. Had the interrogation been videotaped (and mot just the confession), the government would have had a slightly better case. In this case, there is no corpus delicti or other physical evidence that defendant in fact strangled Etan. All we have is the confession of a deranged man. Furthermore, another suspect with a record of child molestation was not prosecuted. So I think the juror who refused to go along with a guilty verdict did the right thing and that defense counsel, Mr. Fishbein, did a fine job. As much as we would all like to find Etan's killer, we cannot convict unless guilt is proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

  156. All of this discussion is omitting a fundamental flaw in the investigation and interrogation of Mr. Hernandez.

    Contrary to what is now standard procedure in many jurisdictions, the detectives chose not to tape the entire interrogation and to only start the recording when Mr. Hernandez began to confess. This meant that there was no visual evidence allowing the prosecutors to show that Mr. Hernandez had not been coerced.

    The result was one juror who got it stuck in his craw that some type of coercion or violation of Mr. Hernandez's rights might have occurred behind closed doors. The nature of the interrogation was certainly part of how he came to that inclusion.

    The people who should be answering questions right now are the prosecutors and the investigators who for reasons that have never been made clear chose not to tape the entire interrogation. This is required under law in many jurisdictions precisely to avoid this regrettable situation.

    The public now understands that forced confessions are theoretically possible. We know that coercion, while absolutely possible, is still relatively rare. But the public now knows enough that in the future juries will need to see or hear audio or visual evidence to be thoroughly convinced that coercion has not occurred.

    Prosecutors presented a flawed, partial taped confession that gave the defense a clear, juicy and regrettable opening to question its admissibility.

    Bad choice.

  157. Prosecutors had what they had. However, "More than 50 witnesses testified during the trial, including people who said that Mr. Hernandez had talked to them in the past about having killed a child . . . " That doesn't sound like a forced confession. I think a murderer is free due to the reluctance of one juror.

  158. I think we agree, with a small catch.

    My best guess is also that a murderer is free. And I am not suggesting that it was a forced confession. Further, I wish that the one juror had not gotten the idea that there had been coercion because there is no way he could have really known that. Finally, I hope the prosecutors do retry the case.

    But the story of why they went to trial with a confession that they knew would be vulnerable to claims of coercion is very complicated, and the troubling details explaining how this happened can be found in articles written by Joe Sexton for the non-profit investigative reporting organization Pro-Publica.

    By the way, shortly after the flawed, only partially taped interrogation of Hernandez took place in New Jersey, that state began requiring fully taped confessions.

    Hernandez was later interrogated in manhattan by manhattan prosecutors, but that partially taped NJ interrogation provided just the kind of small hole that a good defense attorney was able to crawl through.

    The defense should never have been given that gift.

  159. Possible coercion during the unrecorded interrogation and ways of prompting and suggesting the lines of the story to be confessed. I'm a historian and have seen in the transcripts of trials how prompt questions work in shaping a confession (Inquisition trials).The shaping of the story takes place during this initial interrogation. We need a record of that.

  160. So sorry for the parents. Not a fan of Vance. Admire the entire jury, each and every one.

  161. I won't comment on the lone juror as I didn't see the facts of the case. All I will say is I hope Etan's parents find justice for this inhuman act.

  162. Losing a child this way is incredibly hard on a parent. But vengeance might make it harder to find peace. This is all a very sad situation.

  163. He confessed 'after a six-and-a-half hour interrogation by three New York detectives...which the police did not record.' While he was under arrest.
    Is this Italy?

    Obviously, this is not a fair comparison - but is there not an airtight protocol in place ensuring anything resembling a serous interrogation be recorded? Also - they had 6 hours! And it crossed nobody's mind at any point that this should be documented?

  164. Many people would break down and admit to being Elvis Presley after 6 hours of interrogation by detectives.

  165. One of the saddest legacies of this case is that generations of parents have subjected their children to unwarranted restrictions on their freedom. The government now threatens parents who do allow children to grow, as in the now-infamous Washington D.C. "free range" case.

    The Etan Patz disappearance and likely murder was a terrible nightmare, but it was and is statistically insignificant. Aside from intra-family custody disputes, child kidnapping barely exists. Yet we behave as if our kids are under constant threat.

  166. Statistically insignificant?! There is no murder of a child that is insignificant, ever.

  167. Not insignificant, statistically not significant. There is a world of difference.

  168. @PS: "statistically insignificant" is a technical term. It has nothing to do with whether Etan's life was "significant", which of course it was.

    Etan's mom took a reasonable and thoughtful risk when she let him go out alone that day. Her good decision was borne out by the fact that thousands or millions of other kids across America did something similar and came home uneventfully. I'm just saying that while the latter experience is more instructive than the former, we have allowed the emotional impact of that one exceedingly rare terrible crime to push social policy in the wrong direction.

  169. Personally, I am shocked that there was ONLY one hold-out. From the moment this began (i.e., the arrest of Mr. Hernandez), I saw a huge rush to judgment, on the part of both the judicial system and the media. And although I obviously cannot be sure, I never had the sense that Mr. Hernandez committed the crime.

  170. Group-think is a powerful thing.

  171. Obviously a horrible, horrible experience for a parent. But unfortunately Mr. Patz' confidence in Hernandez's guilt doesn't hold a lot of water when he was previously convinced someone else murdered his son--even winning a civil suit finding Jose Ramos responsible.

  172. Stories like this are worrisome, and for a teacher this was shocking to read : " Mothers live in a world of other mothers, not to mention teachers and principals, who judge us by our children. " This is not only narcissistic, but misguided and just plain false. I have been a teacher for twenty-seven years in Manhattan schools (public and private) and I have NEVER judged a parent based on their child. The child (or student) has a completely unique and separate relationship with their teacher. Meeting the parent (s) only helps me understand the child better. Get to know your child's teachers. You might like them.

  173. When people define "reasonable doubt" as an "absolute" zero sum definitive with no other possibilities, there in lies an issue, which any good defense lawyer should in most cases, offer one "reasonable doubt " scenario to sway any juror. If 11 of 12 jurors find no doubt of a guilty conviction, this should be sufficient since the defendant still has other legal means in the appeals process.

    I was nearly twenty at the time of Etan Patz disappearance, and years later found out that his uncle was the Rabbi at a synagogue in the neighborhood where I grew up in NJ, which he was very tolerant of us kids skateboarding in the parking lot, and of some what of other mischievous deeds we conspired as kids years earlier.

    I mention the Rabbi not only because I recognized him from the photo in the article standing behind his brother in support, as Stanley Katz urges the prosecutor to try Hernandez again, but also because a man of such faith would having a much better understanding of "reasonable doubt", which it probably is not my place to assume how a man such as he would define and take regard in such these circumstances...

  174. “I couldn’t get there.”

    What is scary to me is how easily 11 others jurors COULD get there.

  175. How was it easy? The jurors returned to their deliberations three times!

  176. sixmile: Only because the verdict was not unanimous.

  177. Jake: how does that make it easy? Yes, they were compelled to go back to the jury room, they asked for transcripts of closing arguments, they created apparently meticulous spreadsheets chronicling timelines and evidence, and minds were changed. Save one lone holdout. The jury appears to have wrestled with the evidence in a good faith attempt to reach unanimity. In that they failed. The unanimous and beyond a reasonable doubt standards rightly make the process difficult by design. There's nothing easy about it so long as the effort is applied rigorously and in good faith. Which in this case it certainly appears to have been.

  178. The fact that Etan's mother gave him a dollar to buy a soda that day (a fact that was not disclosed to the public until after Hernandez was arrested and confessed) and the fact that in his confession he stated that he promised to give Etan a soda should be proof enough that he killed him. I don't understand why that set of facts was not highlighted more by the prosecution. Surely the "soda connection" was not just part of the "delusions" that Hernandez was suffering from. God bless the Patz family and let's hope justice is served next time around.

  179. How in the world is that proof he killed him.

  180. ?? How likely is it Hernandez "makes up" the soda promise thing, out of nowhere, as part of his false, delusional confession, when in fact Etan had money to "buy a soda", but that was not known to the public. Maybe Hernandez is telepathic awa delusional? ?
    Not ice cream, not candy, not bakery. A soda.
    He did promise Etan a soda, but that doesn't mean he killed him? ?
    Could it be a great coincidence? Perhaps, but this is part of piecing things together.
    Excellent point, Grace.

  181. No, grace and MoreRadishesPlease, if anything this works against the plausibility of the confession. If the boy already had been given a dollar to buy a soda, he would be less likely to be lured by the promise of being given one.

  182. It is interesting that most, if not all of, top blogs here come to the conclusion that too much uncertainty of evidence indeed rightfully resulted in a "not guilty" verdict. As such it is very strange that the entire jury, except for one man, found Pedro Hernandez guilty. Explains why so many people in jail for life or dead sentence later turned out to be not guilty. Somehow too many weak links in the chain.

  183. Immense, compelling research on false confessions. Why, more than 100 people called Parkland in Dallas to confess to killing John Kennedy! And the Patz case imprinted itself on the consciousness of all New Yorkers for many years, easily long enough to lodge in a disordered mind.

    Congratulations on this one heroic juror who resisted what must have been a tidal wave of emotion in that jury room, moving them to find some kind of justice in a world where that is rare. And shame on the defense attorney who let this happen.

  184. The rules being what they are , the system worked as intended. Many of the comments , written by people who observed not iota of the evidence presented , either criticized the rules , or the holdout juror for standing fast by an opinion that no one has been made privy to.

    Our system of justice is far from perfect. Mostly by virtue of the human factor which has resulted in the grave errors, revealed by technological and scientific advancement, that have mistakenly imprisoned or executed innocents.

    Conversely, there are few, if any justice systems that provide the protections to the accused that can be found in our Constitution.

    Because of the imperfections that do exist ,common sense should mandate the elimination of executions which are final and cannot be reversed by the introduction of new exculpatory evidence , be it factually relevant or scientifically contraindicative to a verdict of guilt.

    In the case at hand , a unanimous verdict is required. This decision in no way impedes the District Attorney from re-presenting the case without prejudice to the accused.

    Beyond a reasonable doubt is a tough standard. As it should be. Accusations are easy to make and if any of our dissenting commenters ever find themselves occupying the hot seat at a defense table , they too will come to deeply appreciate that tough standard.

  185. My son was a year old when little Etan disappeared and I will never forget the chill that went up my spine when I first heard the news. Over the years I have often though of Etan and the anguish that his family has had to endure. My heart goes out to them for that and I cannot imagine the pain that it must have been like to sit thru this trial that has just ended inconclusively.
    At the same time, I know what its like to sit on a jury and I must say that this jury appears to have meticulously gone over every detail. Then for 3 weeks they agonized over a decision that would have enormous repercussions for all involved.
    I think they did an outstanding job even though after all these years we still do not know who is responsible for disappearance and presumed death of little Etan Patz.
    The sadness is overwhelming and never ending.

  186. Sorry confessions, especially those obtained from the mentally ill after hours of interrogation, are not believable. Most people may find this hard to believe but psychologically confessions are not reliable in many contexts. People consistently claim to do things they have not done both positive and negative. The fact that Hernandez did this often does not increase the credibility but more likely weakens it. Also, what happened to the body if he put it in a bag and left it in a passageway only a block and a half from the supposed murder. Keep in mind this family won a civil suit against Jose Ramos for Etan's disappearance.

    If all the evidence they have are his multiple confessions and no actual physical evidence of any kind - there is certainly reasonable doubt. Any of you who knows or has a family member with a personality disorder, are acutely aware of the lack of consistency regarding events described by said person.

  187. Well, this is the beauty of a juried trail. We are not in Saudi Arabia or any other place with a justice system that is not, for lack of a better term "so thorough."

    We should refrain from making conclusions based on news reports versus the judgement of a jury that went through this weeks of excruciating evidence, or lack of it.

  188. I have tried many cases where there was one holdout. All of the retrials ended in a conviction. I can't speak to NY, but many jurisdictions have instructions that explicitly advise that there isn't a difference between direct or "eyewitness" and circumstantial evidence. That the holdout juror stated he needed more than circumstantial evidence of guilt is concerning. In most murder cases the only eyewitness is dead.

  189. Most forensic evidence has nothing to do with eyewitness accounts -and that's the rub as there is no physical evidence available here.

  190. Re: "That the holdout juror stated he needed more than circumstantial evidence of guilt is concerning."

    The juror who voted against conviction said he needed more evidence than a possibly coerced confession. That seems to me eminently reasonable.

    There were, by the way, at least four confessions by completely disparate persons to the last murder with heavy media coverage in the city in which I live, and all of these confessions were completely voluntary. To date the murder is considered unsolved.

  191. I'm having a hard time understanding how so many people can say that 1 holdout juror equals reasonable doubt. That view means the other 11 jurors are blatantly ignoring their duty or being unreasonable. It also means the judge would have entered an acquittal. That didn't happen.

  192. Your reasoning holds no water in our criminal justice system which in a Murder case like this requires a unanimous decision by the jurors. Watch the Henry Fonda classic 'Twelve Angry Men."

  193. Gail: Re: "I'm having a hard time understanding how so many people can say that 1 [sic] holdout juror equals reasonable doubt."

    None of the comments I've read say that. Many of them, however, do say that the evidence presented by the prosecution is not strong enough and thus the one (small numbers are properly spelled out) juror who declined to vote for conviction was right to do so. That seems to me a fair conclusion.

    Re: "That view means the other 11 jurors are blatantly ignoring their duty or being unreasonable."

    No, it means eleven of the jurors disagreed with the twelfth about the strength of the evidence.

    Re: "It also means the judge would have entered an acquittal."

    The judge in a jury trial is not empowered to acquit (or to convict). The jury must do that.

  194. Feel bad for the anguished father and Patz supporters, but more evidence is needed. I do commend the juror who stuck to his principles and wasn't swayed. This was a weak case, surprised it saw light.

  195. 1. It's interesting that we have this rule at the same time that many important Supreme Court cases are decided by 5-4 margins.

    2. The case will be tried again. This time the jury will convict in 15 minutes, sit around for another hour to make things look good
    and then come out to report their findings.

  196. If he has been confessing since 1979, that's kind of weird. Have to say, Mr. Patz has a good point -- how many times does it take to believe him? And what's Hernandez been doing all this time, btw? That he is of weak mind, or whatever it is they said, doesn't mean he didn't do it, either. The juror was probably right in holding out, but just one case that proves to me that juries don't work.

    I hate this case, always have. It might not sound like much, but all I can think of is that poor little kid.

  197. Confessions of mentally ill are not reliable. In one of his confessions Hernandez stated his victim was black. These incompatibles should be enough to cast reasonable doubt on any of Hernandez' confessions.

  198. Dear Mr. Sirois, Thank you. I am someone the prosecution, for numerous reasons, would not want on a jury. Reasonable doubt is based on reason, not belief, and the prosecution has to provide proof. If the prosecution was unable to exclude the reasonable possibility that Etan Patz was killed by someone other than the defendant then there is reasonable doubt. If there is reasonable doubt it is a juror's responsibility to acknowledge that and acquit. Understanding the difference between reason and belief makes all the difference in the world. Again. Thank you.

  199. It's not an easy thing to be the holdout in jury deliberations. But I think this juror's unwillingness to convict shows that if there is doubt, group think doesn't necessarily rule the outcome.

  200. So, one person is "right" and 11 people are "wrong". Just how many times does a person have to confess before he/she is convicted?

  201. William Sparks: Re: "So, one person is 'right' and 11 people are 'wrong'."

    It's very often the case that one person is right and eleven or many, many more are wrong. Majorities may determine elections, but they certainly do not determine truth.

    Re: "Just how many times does a person have to confess before he/she is convicted?"

    Unless there is some corroborating evidence (which in this case there did not seem to be) a thousand confessions should not suffice. Why is this difficult to grasp?

  202. Your heart beaks for the Patz family. They have endured hell for many years.

    But we have a jury system and it works well on the whole.

    My thoughts are with the Patz family.

  203. How is closure to be gotten from convicting an individual without proving a case? Are we saying that a confession in and of itself equals conviction and sentence? I think of the individuals in the Central Park Incident, where ‘confessions’ did not line up with the physical evidence assess by several attorneys. I consider too, ‘The Memphis 3’ where again; confessions did not mesh with what the physical evidence showed. A confession may get the ball rolling in an investigation, but ultimately a case must be proven by strong circumstantial or physical evidence. It is a dangerous situation, when verdicts in a court of law, gets dictated by emotions rather than intellect. I am grateful to the lone juror, who relied on reason and rational before arriving at his decision. To this juror, I say thank you for a job well done. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand alone. We must all imagine ourselves on trial and decide what kind of justice system, would serve us best.

  204. Thank you. I feel and concur with your statement. There is a lot to say about letting emotions aside in every high stakes decision or action; integrity, that is all a person has in this world. He/she have to live by every word or thought uttered.

  205. First, I echo the thoughtful and kind sentiment so many have expressed in their hearts for the Patz family.
    May there be peace for you somehow through all this ordeal and sadness and today's proceedings.

    I encourage all to read the article describing the jury deliberations. Surprisingly, there were several 9-3 votes and only this morning did the 11th guilty vote decide.

    It's not an easy task with no witnesses and without ever finding Etan.

    My respect to brave Americans who rise to do their civic duty.

  206. Without sound and video, no confession should be considered evidence or permitted by law. I was tried of a crime in absentia and convicted by my confession, which had been brutally coerced by the prosecutor, the police and spearheaded by my own lawyer! If you, the reader of this, had been present at my confession, you would have seen that I was not only innocent but that the police, prosecutor and my defence lawyer were guilty of gross abuse of justice.

  207. I'm slightly older than Etan and I remember his disappearence We'll never forget his photo.

  208. In one of his confessions Hernandez stated his victim was black.
    But Etan Patz is white not black.
    I am not a lawyer but this would seem to cast reasonable doubt on any of Hernandez' confessions.

  209. I sat on a NY county jury several years ago. A stock broker from a small firm was accused of defrauding his customers. The State's first witness, who was on the stand for 9 days, talked about the crimes he committed, and to which he plead guilty, but that person did not work with the defendant and could not personally speak to his crimes. No matter. Although my fellow jurors were good serious people, half the room was ready to convict then and there. Despite the judge's daily instruction to keep an open mind and not draw conclusions. Despite that witness's circumstantial testimony. Despite the obvious attempt at guilt by association.

    For some jurors, there is no presumption of innocence. The jury room is intended to coerce a guilty verdict. It's a small room. You're seated around a table. People are disputing the facts and the testimony. The majority, or usually its most vociferous ones, are badgering the holdouts. You're arguing over details and your memory fails. There's always talking and chatter; it's not conducive to thoughtful reflection.

    Changes are needed:jurors are permitted to take notes but can't use them in deliberations. Evidence is permitted in the jury room but not a transcript of testimony. We're not permitted to hear the conversations between the attorneys and the judge and be able to hear and understand how and why objections and motions are decided. The jury system is not a search for truth or justice; it's about persuading 12 people to vote guilty.

  210. Certainly, not allowing jurors to take notes hinders some people in reflective decision making. It doesn't seem like knowledge about different learning styles has ever been applied to juries. You get interviewed beforehand and it's pretty obvious what each side wants you to say to either be seated or not be seated on the jury. Also, the entire process and infantilizing is stressful to jurors. I've found it to be like being back in grade school, being told to line up, take a number, being left in small, unpleasant rooms for hours due to delays that are not explained until much later (if at all), being sternly lectured, even hectored, by the judge, needing permission to go to the bathroom ... ugh, it's like a nightmare version of third grade. I suppose it makes jurors experience a small fraction of what the defendant is going through. The whole experience feels punitive. In short, it's not a psychologically sophisticated process.

  211. I think it's likely he did it, but also agree there's room for doubt. I don't know if I'd have voted to convict. I've read quite a bit about false confessions.

  212. Re: "Ms. O’Connor, for instance, said she thought Mr. Hernandez’s behavior was consistent with a guilty conscience."

    That isn't evidence; that's amateur psychology. It's amazing to me that eleven jurors can't seem to distinguish one from the other.

  213. I think the whole question of guilt rests with the video of the confession and what went on with the interaction of the police officers and the accused, regarding for one: was he Mirandized before the confession was taped, and two, was he questioned off the record before the taping .

  214. Jurors are not psychiatrists or psychologists. They gain their understanding of complex mental conditions from television dramas. Then they think that they can come to an informed decision about the plausibility of a person's confession.

    Why wasn't the confession of the alleged killer audio and video taped by the three cops? How come nobody found the little boy's body all those years ago - or his bag of toys, or his cap or anything?

    Never mind. We know from experience that we can trust the police and prosecutors to be scrupulously honest at all times, and that they would never, ever try to stitch someone up.

  215. That's great that you figured all this out from... news reports.

  216. I was on a jury deliberating a murder charge a few years ago, and we could not reach a verdict after several weeks of trying. Our case was frustrating. No definitive murder weapon, no definitive cause of death, and no witnesses to the alleged murder except the accused and his girlfriend. It's quite easy for people on the outside to judge juries who can't reach a verdict or who don't reach a verdict that people outside want. But, they are not in the courtroom day in and day out hearing what we jurors hear. We had to decide based on the evidence we were presented and nothing more. Several of us felt that the prosecutor did not prove her case even though the defense was weak. She was aiming for murder one, and the only thing the jury agreed on 100% was that the defendant had not committed murder one. From there we couldn't decide on anything. Ironically, athough we were a hung jury, just 9 months later the defendant pleaded guilty to second degree murder in order to avoid another long trail. And THAT was the murder charge upon which our jury hung.

  217. Perfect real example of my point in my previous comment and reply. Your jury was hung on the charge itself; not the commission of the crime of murder, but which "type" of murder? Moreover, your jury was hung by a margin much wider than 11-1. which means several jurors were persuaded to hold out. a realistic outcome that presumes genuine, actual difference of opinion, at least no hidden agendas impinging on the outcome, grandstanding, or other distortions of the process by one lone holdout.

  218. I served on a 5 1/2 month jury - I found in deliberating that there was not much room for "my opinion" - we were instructed to apply the evidence to - and base our decision(s) strictly on the guidelines of the law provided by the judge - which sometimes had some quirky outcomes (in the 57 items we had to rule on)

  219. Justice delayed is justice denied. 36 years later how do you get there? Seems like you don't.

    I've been on a jury that convicted a man. Few of us had any doubts. Mr. Sirois did have serious doubts. Eleven people saw something he couldn't see. Something pretty admirable about him standing his ground and the other jurors feeling no animosity. Seems like the way it's supposed to work.

  220. Juries. Too many dumb people. Always find an impartial judge to make a decision. I was on jury duty and some of the members were dumb as a rock. A person was accused of a minor crime and some wanted to sentence him to one year in jail. Probation and counseiling is a better.

  221. I was on a hung jury that voted 11-1 for acquittal. The hold-out agreed that if he were buying a house he would need more reliable evidence that the title was clear than the prosecution presented for the defendant's guilt, but he was pretty sure the defendant wasn't innocent, so he couldn't vote to acquit.

    But get this: he had voted to acquit in a straw-poll, that went 11-1 for acquittal. We convinced THAT holdout pretty quickly that there wasn't enough evidence. But then this other guy changed his mind: and we entered the interesting and I think common dynamic where a lone juror becomes "the one just man or woman," the Henry Fonda type. And that's often a good thing. But I think two hold-outs (either way) will share the burden of listening and will talk among themselves. One hold-out is using all their energy to resist the enormous pressure from the other eleven. And if they CAN resist the pressure, that's often all they can do: resisting pressure and being deeply deliberative at the same time are often too much for a single human being.

    Well, that's juries. Both prosecution and defense will have learned from the case, and will present their cases better at retrial: at least I hope so. We all have an interest in seeing some definitive conclusion to this awful story, which has been playing out since I was just a few years older than Etan Patz.

  222. Of course it would be nice had 12 people agreed and the case closed. But that's not how it's all supposed to work. Because there was only one holdout, it's quite possible Mr. Hernandez is not the killer, but the victim of a bizarre story of circumstantial evidence overlayed with mental illness and an over zealous criminal system. I shudder to think that his life came down to one person who just "couldn't get there." So there may be a retrial and Mr. Hernandez will be guilty because they found the "right" 12th juror? Unless there's more convincing evidence, how can there be another trial? I couldn't live with that.

  223. 11-1 is usually encouraging to prosecutors, so i would expect a retrial. 11-1 is also significant pressure to move soneone to take a deal, if you're a defense lawyer. So expect both those announcements coming soon.
    However...the deliverations room? Sounded like a bad "closing" room in a car lot hustle, or a mortuary squeeze (I've experienced both of these events myself). Guilty verdicts shouldn't be greased this way...it's shameful and frankly, an obvious tactic. I understand that we don't want people to be pampered as if the court is the Four Seasons, but some air? Is that too much. People's FATES are being decided, and having a little respect for the life on trial wouldn't be asking too much, now would it?

  224. So, what happened to the body?! Did it just walk away?!

  225. It was thrown into a trash bin and sent to a garbage dump.

  226. Hernandez said he left the boy's body wrapped in a plastic inside a box in an alley (the 18th year old man must have walked to the alley with the box). How could a box with a decomposing body not be found in a nearby alley in a neighborhood/area closely searched by police, investigators and people in the days after the boy's disappearance?

  227. Life imitating art..."12 Angry Men."

  228. A great movie. Henry Fonda was superb. Nice comparison to this tragedy.

  229. Why is Etan presumed dead if no evidence was ever found?

  230. Although I feel sorry for the Patz family who had to endure much pain during this process and over the years, this is a case where the jury system worked. The fact that there was only one holdout not to convict (although there were others early on) makes no difference. I have served on juries and the process looks totally different from the inside. I am actually in awe of juries where simple folks are given great power and in my experience treat the job very responsibly. Juries help differentiate our country from most others, for which I am very thankful.

  231. Hat's off to this jury for deliberating as long, thoughtfully as they did--and for respecting the one among them who couldn't quite see himself clear to the other side to join them in making the vote unanimous. Soon after becoming an American citizen in Boston over 25 years ago, I served on a jury there and then again more recently closer to where I live now. Both cases extended a week or so and both resulted in a verdict. And each time, I marveled before, during and after at the entire experience of having served as a juror with a group of my peers. in my first case, the jury couldn't have been more of a microcosm of the community and we selected a car mechanic as foreman from a group that also included a high school teacher, CPA, several business people, a college professor and a nurse. I was born and raised in a pretty sophisticated, forward thinking European country, and still marvel at that selection. You have to come from some place else to fully appreciate what a uniquely American rite and incredibly important, valuable role-responsibility this is of citizenship--right up there with voting. So even when the end result doesn't quite live up to everyone's hopes or satisfaction, everything about participating in the process matters. This is one of the most vexing things for me about living in America: how comparatively few people vote in elections and so many will do just about anything to avoid jury duty.

  232. A sad day for for the Patz family who needed closure
    After all these years. I am not convinced that this case was handled properly by the police.
    My deepest sympathy for the Patz family. I'm also disgusted with our justice system which is bably in need of reform.

  233. As an MD who has dealt with terrible family tragedies over the last 45 years there is simply no such thing as "closure."

    Their son will never return to them. Period. You can't unring that bell. I have watched families who have been torn apart by missing family members, guilt ("Why did I ever let him walk by himself" to "Did I tell him I loved him that day? or Was God punishing me for not being a good dad, brother, sister, aunt...?"

    Divorces occur as they need to assign blame somewhere. No I've never seen a family return to that same loving family they were before any horrific incident.

    Closure is a nice term but has no reality.

  234. You should compare this to the case of Thomas Quick (real name Sture Bergwall) who confessed to more then 30 murders and was convicted of 8 murders. All the convictions were based on his confessions only, there was no tehcnical evidence. The same team of prosecutor-defense attorney-shrink-interrogator was used in all cases. We thought we had caught the perpetrator of most all cold cases from the last few decades.
    Years later he stopped taking his medication and claimed innocence. After reporters researched his case it became evident that all the confessions had been fabricated by the team. Quick had a retrial and is now a fre man.
    The real problem is that we still have dozens of unsolved murder cases because no proper investigation was done. Justice has failed those victims and their families.
    http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sture_Bergwall
    We shall not haphazardly convict someone based only on a confession.

  235. I wrote a comment yesterday doubting that a retrial was needed however, after hearing many jurors on TV convinced of his guilt and the holdout juror who was very unpersuasive, I have changed my mind and believe a retrial is needed. 11-1 is significant. A new jury will likely bring a fresh perspective and a correct verdict. A second hung jury or not-guilty verdict will doubtless write finis to this tragic case.