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Crime & Courts

APNewsBreak: Prosecutors say man accused of killing NYC boy missing since 1979 has dark past

Prosecutors say the man charged with killing a 6-year-old New York City boy who disappeared in 1979 has a disturbing past.

In papers filed ahead of a Wednesday court date, the Manhattan district attorney's office says Pedro Hernandez beat his wife, molested a relative and used cocaine.

Hernandez emerged just last year as a suspect in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz (AY'-tahn PAYTS). The case spotlighted the problem of vanished children nationwide.

Hernandez told police he smothered Etan. His defense says that he's mentally ill and that his confession was false.

Lawyer Harvey Fishbein said in the late 1980s Hernandez began abusing cocaine and became prone to outbursts because of his psychiatric condition.

Fishbein says those problems are past and don't make Hernandez a killer.

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