Tags: etan patz | juror | verdict

Lone Juror In Etan Patz Case Defends Holding Out on Verdict

By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2015 01:10 PM

The lone juror whose refusal to convict ended in a mistrial in the Etan Patz case earlier this month said Thursday that his "heart goes out" to the long-missing child's family, and he's sorry for their loss, "but that doesn't mean you convict the wrong person in the case."

"Essentially, it boils down to the evidence," the juror, Adam Sirois, told CNN's "New Day" host Chris Cuomo of his decision to refuse to vote for the conviction of the suspect, Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to killing the 6-year-old 36 years ago.

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The boy, whose disappearance started a trend of placing images of missing children on milk cartons across the country, has never been found, and Hernandez, the only suspect to be tried for Patz's disappearance, saw his case end in a mistrial after Sirois decided there was not enough evidence for him to agree with his fellow 11 jurors.

"The evidence was just not there in this case," Sirois told Cuomo. "Unfortunately, my fellow jurors felt the story presented by the prosecution was a story that made the most sense. And in my opinion you don't go with the story that makes the most sense, you go with the evidence. So it was very difficult, but it was the decision I felt very comfortable with."

Hernandez told several people that he had killed the child, and still admits to the crime, but Sirois said the court judge told the jury that it could not vote a guilty plea "on someone based only on their words they use against themselves. A confession is not evidence of guilt."

Hernandez confessed to choking the boy back in 1979 in a convenience store basement, and then tossing the body with trash a few blocks away.

Instead of depending on that confession, it was up to the prosecutors in the case to prove that the crime was convicted and by the person who was charged, said Sirois, beyond a reasonable doubt.

"[With] my understanding of reasonable doubt, which is a very high threshold for voting guilty in our country, I just feel that the other jurors had a much lower threshold for getting to that point of being willing to vote guilty in this case," said Sirois.

The lone holdout juror said there were also many reasons why he did not trust the eyewitness testimony against Hernandez, which was based on what the witnesses heard 35 years ago.

"In the courtroom, in the jury room, we couldn't remember what was said 10 minutes ago in court sometimes, which is why we asked for readback," said Sirois. "So it made me nervous to judge a man based on words from 35 years ago that someone might have heard at a church group meeting."

Sirois said he was also concerned that police questioned Hernandez for seven hours without a video recording being done, but not because he is suspicious of the police.

"I have huge respect for the NYPD and for the prosecutor's office and in general I think they do a great job," he told Cuomo. "I think it was unfortunate they didn't videotape the first seven hours of this interview, which would have really helped."

But Sirois said he's not accusing police officers of doing anything wrong to get Hernandez's confession, but "when someone has a mental health condition like Mr. Hernandez, low intelligence, can a person like that succumb to a confession more easily? I think so."

He also said that reports that Hernandez told the same story to several people could point to discrepancies or even people who might have had ulterior motives while recounting his confession.

"One is his ex-wife, who obviously had a very bad relationship with him," he said.
The other three were "older gentlemen from Puerto Rico who were in a church group who said they heard something 35 years ago, but none of their stories were the same, and they changed over time."

Sirois told Cuomo he still feels "very confident" in his vote, and that he was hoping there would be "at least nine or 10 other people" who would have been standing with him.

"There are a few people that were never going to vote not guilty," Sirois said. "I could see that from the beginning. But there was a lot of wavering in that room for a while. It even got 6-6 at one point. But, yeah, I wish I wasn't alone right now but that's how the system works."

He said he is not going to pretend to know the answer, but there were other suspects, and the evidence against Hernandez was weak.

"There was no corroboration of the confessions," he insisted. "The confessions are difficult. I grant that. I mean, they're difficult for me. But there was no clear evidence that corroborated his confessions."

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The lone juror whose refusal to convict ended in a mistrial in the Etan Patz case earlier this month said Thursday that his "heart goes out" to the long-missing child's family, and he's sorry for their loss, "but that doesn't mean you convict the wrong person in the case."
etan patz, juror, verdict
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2015-10-28
Thursday, 28 May 2015 01:10 PM
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