MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A date has been set for the retrial of Pedro Hernandez, the former SoHo bodega clerk accused of strangling 6-year-old Etan Patz 36 years ago.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley set a Feb. 22, 2016, date for jury selection to begin, during a brief court hearing Monday.
Earlier this year, after 18 days of jury deliberations, a mistrial was declared in the disappearance case of Etan, when a lone holdout juror refused to convict Hernandez in the boy’s death.
With the late February jury selection, a trial would likely not begin until sometime in March.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, objected to the February start, saying trial proceedings should begin sooner, as his client has now sat in jail for more than three years.
"We don’t want him sitting in jail,” Fishbein said after the brief hearing. “It’s not just to prolong this any longer.”
Judge Wiley said he was pushing the trial into February to give the case’s new prosecutor, Joel Seidemann, time to prepare for the trial. The former lead prosecutor, Joan Iluzzi Orbon, resigned to run for Staten Island District Attorney.
Hernandez, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, sat silently through the hearing.
Etan’s father, Stan Patz, sat in the court room, flanked by two former jurors in the case, who have now become vocal advocates for Hernandez’s conviction.
Patz, who has spoken out about his belief that Hernandez is guilty, declined to comment after Monday's hearing.
Etan, who went missing as he walked to the school bus by himself for the first time in May 1979, has never been found.