A video confession was played Monday in a New York City courtroom of a man named Pedro Hernandez talking about the murder of a 6-year-old boy.
The disappearance of Etan Patz, who vanished in the SoHo section of Manhattan in 1979 while on his way to school, transfixed the city.
The video confession, recorded in December 1992, did much the same to the courtroom. In it, Hernandez speaks calmly about strangling the child, saying that he wanted to stop choking him but could not.
The hearing, which began on Monday and is expected to last a few weeks, is to determine whether Hernandez's confession and statements to the police will be admissible in the trial.
Etan's father watched stoically as the video was played. His mother left the courtroom before the video began.
Hernandez said in the video that Etan was still alive when he put him in a bag.
Despite the confession, Hernandez has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer says his client falsely confessed and, because of his low IQ, lacks the mental ability to understand his rights.
In 2012, police found evidence that led them to Hernandez, who had worked at a SoHo bodega near where Etan went missing.
Hernandez was questioned for about seven hours at a police station in New Jersey, where he now lives, before reading him his Miranda rights. He then confessed to luring Etan into the grocery store and suffocating him in the basement.
In the video confession, Hernandez admitted to putting the boy in a bag, stuffing it into a box and leaving on the sidewalk.
The day Etan disappeared, May 25, became National Missing Children's Day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.