Long-Awaited Trial to Open In Patz Case

NEW YORK (AP) -

The teenage stock clerk was just a name in a file for decades, one of many people police encountered while searching for a 6-year-old boy named Etan Patz. Thirty-five years later, Pedro Hernandez is going on trial in a case that defined the nation’s approach to missing children.

Opening statements are set for Friday, with Hernandez’s defense hinging on convincing jurors that a confession he made is false.

“It will be, I think, an extremely interesting case,” state Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley told prospective jurors earlier this month, adding that those chosen would be in for “an experience they’ll never forget.”

The trial is expected to last up to three months and feature witnesses including Etan’s mother, psychologists, inmate informants and, possibly, Jose Ramos, an earlier suspect.

The seven-man, five-woman jury was chosen from a pool of 700 people. Some openly wondered about bringing a case to trial after so many years.

“A lot of time has elapsed, and a lot of things have probably changed. … It’s 35-year-old memories,” one man said earlier this week. He was not selected.