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Crime & Courts

Spring trial likely in case against NJ man accused of killing 6-year-old NY boy in 1979

A New York judge says the murder trial for a man accused of killing a 6-year-old boy who vanished in 1979 likely will be held next spring.

Maple Shade, N.J., resident Pedro Hernandez appeared briefly in court Wednesday. He was charged with murder in 2011 after he confessed to choking Etan Patz (AY'-tahn payts). The little boy was last seen on his way to a Manhattan school bus stop on May 25, 1979, a date later named National Missing Children's Day in his memory.

Hernandez was a convenience store clerk near where the boy was last seen. The boy's body has never been found.

Hernandez was arrested last year after police got a tip he had told people he had killed a child.

A defense lawyer says Hernandez is schizophrenic and bipolar and his admission was false.

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