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Deadlocked Etan Patz Jury Leaning Toward Acquittal, Sources Say

By  Irene Plagianos and Murray Weiss | April 29, 2015 1:01pm | Updated on April 29, 2015 2:40pm

 The jury announced a verdict in the Etan Patz case.
Perdro Hernandez Verdict
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MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The deadlocked jury deliberating the fate of the former bodega clerk accused of strangling 6-year-old Etan Patz is leaning toward an acquittal in the 35-year-old murder case, sources said.

Jurors told the judge Wednesday afternoon they could not agree on a verdict in the case against Pedro Hernandez, 54, who confessed to the murder after a lengthy interrogation by police.

"We the jury, after 10 days of deliberations, want to let the court know that we are unable to reach a unanimous decision" the note to Judge Maxwell Wiley said.

Sources could not say what the exact vote was.

The judge declined to accept the hung jury, reading them a so-called "Allen Charge," sending them back in to continue deliberating.

"I think it's too early to say that it’s not possible…see if you can come up with a verdict that everyone can agree with,” said Judge Wiley.

The judge rejected defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein's request for a mistrial, and sent jurors home early at around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The jury will reconvene on Thursday to listen to readbacks of the trial's closing arguments. 

"We find it coercive to give the Allen Charge at this time," Fishbein said. "This case right now as far as we're concerned is a jury that cannot decide the case. The prosecution will be put to the test whether they want to retry this case or to realize this is a case ultimately they cannot prevail in."

The panel has spent most days in the courtroom listening to readbacks of testimony presented during the trial, and much of Tuesday deliberating the case.

Prosecutors said that they believe the jury will eventually come to a verdict.

"This is a conscientious and hard-working jury and we have every faith that, under the judge's guidance, they can continue to work together to reach a just verdict," Manhattan District Attorney spokeswoman Joan Vollero said.

The jury note comes after an emotional 10 week trial, and a 35-year-old saga filled with false-starts in the search for Patz, who vanished without a trace on May 25, 1979 after his parents let him walk less than two blocks alone from his SoHo home to a bus stop for the first time.

The defense lawyer hinted that he would appeal the verdict if the jury now comes back with a guilty verdict.

"If there was a conviction in this case it would just add to the issues," Fishbein said.