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Jury in Etan Patz murder trial announces deadlock again, but judge orders them to keep working

Pedro Hernandez, right, appears in Manhattan criminal court

Pedro Hernandez, right, appears in Manhattan criminal court with his attorney Harvey Fishbein, in New York in 2012. Credit: AP / Louis Lanzano, Pool, File

The jury in the Etan Patz murder trial Tuesday said for the second time that it was deadlocked on charges against ex-bodega stock boy Pedro Hernandez, but the judge for a second time ordered them to keep trying.

Jurors reported their first deadlock on April 29, and Wednesday will begin their 16th day of deliberations after a 10-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court. Hernandez is charged with strangling 6-year-old Etan in 1979 in one of the nation's most notorious missing child cases.

In a note delivered just after noon, the panel told Justice Maxwell Wiley that after "serious" and "thorough" negotiations they could not reach consensus.

Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein urged the judge to declare a mistrial because forcing the jury to keep working after a second stalemate might coerce jurors.

Wiley decided to give them a second back-to-work order -- known as an Allen charge -- but drew an objection from prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon for language that told the jury it should not worry about public scrutiny because any conscientious verdict would satisfy the people of New York.

"The tone of this is that any verdict will do," complained Illuzzi-Orbon, before jurors entered. "The people would rather have a second trial than simply a verdict for a verdict's sake."

District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. has not yet indicated what he will do in the event of a hung jury. The comment was the first hint that prosecutors may seek to retry Hernandez.

Legal experts say the decision may hinge on post-trial comments about how split the jury is and whether the majority favors acquittal.

The jury deliberated for another five hours Tuesday afternoon after the judge's direction, and broke at 5 p.m. They were to resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

Etan disappeared without a trace on his way to catch a school bus in SoHo on May 25, 1979.

Hernandez, 54, a disabled factory worker from Maple Shade, New Jersey, told police in a now disputed 2012 confession that as a teen working in a neighborhood bodega he killed the boy in the basement. Etan's body was never found.

Defense lawyers contend the confession was a delusion caused by a mental disorder, and have tried to point the finger at another suspect, convicted pedophile Jose Ramos.

Hernandez's wife and daughter, who have been in court for every day of deliberations, held hands and quietly prayed as Wiley read the latest note.

With Maria Alvarez

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