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Pedro Hernandez sentencing delayed in Etan Patz murder case

A Manhattan jury on Feb. 14, 2017 convicted

A Manhattan jury on Feb. 14, 2017 convicted ex-bodega clerk Pedro Hernandez of murder and kidnapping in 6-year-old Etan Patz' 1979 disappearance. Credit: AP / Louis Lanzano

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley on Thursday adjourned next week’s planned sentencing of Pedro Hernandez for the murder of Etan Patz despite “strenuous” opposition from prosecutors, who said Etan’s family has waited and suffered long enough.

Hernandez, 55, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, was convicted last week in a retrial of strangling 6-year-old Etan in 1979, and faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors said Etan’s family members had booked flights and hotels to attend and lend support to parents Stan and Julie Patz.

“While the defendant’s conviction . . . provided great solace to the family, this circle will not and cannot be closed until the defendant’s sentencing,” prosecutors argued. “Any further delay will only cause considerable anguish to a family that has already suffered enough and who seek closure.”

The delay was sought by defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein, who asked for a week to look into post-trial motions — including reports in Newsday and elsewhere that one juror said the panel was told by court officers that jurors from a previous trial were attending the retrial.

At Hernandez’s first trial in 2015, the jury deadlocked 11-1 for conviction. Jurors favoring conviction regularly sat with Etan’s father during the retrial, but Wiley had ordered that the new jury should not be told of the first trial.

The judge adjourned Hernandez’s sentencing without setting a new date, but scheduled a conference in the case for Feb. 28.

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