CRIME

New Prosecutor To Take Over Retrial Of Etan Patz Murder

06/01/2015 10:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK, June 1 (Reuters) - The lead prosecutor in the Etan Patz murder trial, which ended in a mistrial with a hung jury last month, has stepped down to run for office and a new prosecutor will retry the case, local media reported on Monday.

Joan Illuzzi-Orbon is leaving her job as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan to run as the Republican candidate for Staten Island district attorney, local media said.

Her fellow district attorneys in Manhattan, who helped prosecute the kidnapping and murder trial of Pedro Hernandez, 54, a former deli worker, were expected to take over when the case is retried, reports said.

Hernandez confessed in 2012 to killing the 6-year-old boy who disappeared in 1979 from his Soho neighborhood in Manhattan. But Hernandez's lawyers said he was mentally ill and his statements were coerced by police.

A jury in the three-month trial was unable to reach a verdict last month when a single juror held out on a guilty verdict. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his office would press ahead with a new trial.

Patz vanished the first time he walked to the school bus alone, and the highly publicized case changed the way the U.S. handles reports of missing children. Patz was one of the first children whose picture appeared on a milk carton in an effort to locate him.

Illuzzi-Orbon is seeking to fill the seat vacated by Daniel Donovan, who presented the case to a Staten Island grand jury that chose not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of the Eric Garner during an arrest attempt.

The deaths of Garner and several other unarmed black men in confrontations with police triggered nationwide protests over aggressive police tactics when handling minority suspects.

Donovan, a Republican, left the State Island DA's office when he was elected to the House after ex-Congressman Michael Grimm stepped down following his guilty plea to felony tax fraud.

Democrat Michael McMahon, a former councilman and congressman, is running as a Democrat for the Staten Island DA job. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Michael Perry)

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