As far as anybody close to the case has said publicly, the only piece of evidence against alleged Etan Patz killer Pedro Hernandez is his own confession, and on Thursday, his lawyer said that was only the result of Hernandez’s hallucinations and that he would plead not guilty to killing young Etan in 1979. This was Hernandez’s first court appearance after he confessed, and was arrested, back in May. Hernandez himself said nothing during the brief appearance to notify him he had been indicted. But his lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, told reporters outside of court on Thursday that he would move to have Hernandez’s confession not admitted as evidence, saying it was “very subject to attack and will be the subject of attack.” Without the confession, which Fishbein now says was the result of hallucinations stemming from Hernandez’s twenty-year documented history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, there’s not much evidence against him, at least that we know of. The district attorney’s office, however, has said that the evidence against Hernandez is “credible and persuasive, and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness.”
One odd detail about Hernandez’s confession, captured by the New York Post: “The lawyer declined to comment on what law enforcement sources are describing as a mid-confession moment of group prayer among Hernandez and his police investigators — a bizarre, caught-on-tape break in the interrogation prompted by Hernandez asking cops to join him in invoking Jesus Christ.” Except for that Fishbein did comment on it, saying that “if such a thing occurred it would be manipulative.” Either way, if Hernandez’s own statements don’t wind up on the court record, as his lawyer hopes, there won’t be much of a case against him, unless someone knows something they are expertly keeping hidden from the city’s crime reporters.