By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz was indicted on Wednesday for the child's kidnapping and murder in New York City, prosecutors said.
A state grand jury in Manhattan indicted Pedro Hernandez, 51, on charges of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping, said Erin Duggan, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Patz's disappearance on May 25, 1979, on his first walk alone to the school bus stop, drew national attention. He was one of the first missing children whose face appeared on a milk carton as part of an appeal for information from the public.
Three decades later, Hernandez confessed in May to luring the boy and strangling him. He had worked at a deli near the Patz home in Soho in the late 1970s before moving to New Jersey.
"We believe the evidence that Mr. Hernandez killed Etan Patz to be credible and persuasive, and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness," Duggan said.
Hernandez's lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, said his client suffers from schizophrenia and his mental illness prompted his statement to police. There is no other evidence against his client, he said.
"The statements alleged by the People are not supported by any evidence whatsoever despite extraordinary investigative efforts by the police back then and now," Fishbein said in an email statement to Reuters.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing By Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp