Etan Patz suspect's court date postponed to Oct. 1

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Associated Press

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 3:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A court date for a man charged with murdering a New York City boy who vanished in 1979 was postponed Wednesday for three months as authorities and his lawyer continue to investigate.

Pedro Hernandez had been due in court Monday for an update in the case surrounding Etan Patz's death. But the Manhattan district attorney's office said Wednesday that Hernandez's appearance was put off to Oct. 1 "to allow all parties to proceed with their investigations in a measured and fair manner."

Hernandez's lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, declined to comment.

Hernandez was working at a nearby convenience store when Etan disappeared on his way to school. Police said Hernandez confessed last month to killing the 6-year-old boy.

Etan became one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton in an ad campaign to raise awareness of child abductions and possibly help find the missing children. The date he vanished is now National Missing Children's Day.

Hernandez had told a church prayer group in the 1980s that he killed a child in New York City, according to the group's leader and a sister of Hernandez's who said she heard about the episode secondhand. A tipster pointed police to Hernandez last month, after seeing news coverage about the ongoing investigation into Etan's disappearance.

Hernandez's lawyer and his wife's lawyer have said Hernandez is mentally ill, and his wife has said through her lawyer that she believes his confession isn't reliable. A bipolar schizophrenic, he has a history of hallucinations, Fishbein has said.

A judge last month ordered an evaluation of whether Hernandez was mentally fit for trial. The results aren't yet known.

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Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz

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