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Prosecutors ask judge not to overturn Etan Patz murder verdict

Lawyers for Pedro Hernandez, convicted for the 1979

Lawyers for Pedro Hernandez, convicted for the 1979 kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, said Wednesday, March 15, 2017 that jurors knew the previous mistrial's panel attended the February retrial. Credit: AP / Louis Lanzano

Prosecutors on Wednesday urged a judge to refuse to overturn the murder verdict against Pedro Hernandez in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz on grounds of jury contamination.

Defense lawyers claim the deliberations were tainted because the jury learned that pro-conviction jurors from an earlier trial that ended without a verdict were attending the new trial with Etan’s father.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office said that even if it happened, it didn’t matter.

“The defendant obtained a fair trial, and the jury’s verdict was based solely upon the evidence presented at trial,” prosecutors said in a filing with Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley.

Newsday reported last month that a juror said court officers told them about the presence of members of the previous jury, and an alternate juror later gave similar information to the defense.

Hernandez, 55, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, was convicted on Feb. 14 of murder and kidnapping in the long-unsolved 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan as he was on his way to catch a school bus. Hernandez worked in a bodega near the bus stop at the time.

Wiley has not indicated when he will rule.

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