When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trash Bags

Since 1980, Pedro Hernandez, now 56, has been confessing to the 25 May 1979 rape and strangulation/suffocation murder of a 6-year-old boy named Etan Patz. He’s confessed to throwing the child’s body away in a dumpster (the kid, the first ever to adorn a milk carton, was never found). Hernandez had the means, motive and opportunity.

He’s already been tried once (one holdout for acquittal hung the jury). And now he’s on trial again, in New York, where guns are outlawed. Outlawed or not, Hernandez didn’t need one; he just used the strength differential between a man and a boy.

His attorney, the sort of man who wants predators to walk, has done a fine job of banging on the table, but the sands are running through the hourglass for Hernandez. The case goes to the jury today in New York.

In 2012, cops received a tip that led them to Hernandez, who at the time of Patz’s disappearance worked at a bodega next to the bus stop.

Hernandez confessed to enticing Patz into the store’s basement with the promise of a soda and then strangling him to the point of near death.

Hernandez admits that he put Patz’s still breathing body into a plastic bag then into a produce box before dumping it in an alley less than two blocks away.

[Prosecutor Joan] Illuzzi-Orbon played a montage of seven of the defendant’s videotaped confessions to police, prosecutors and psychiatric experts since his 2012 arrest.

The same year Etan disappeared, he told a church group he had killed a boy in New York.

“It’s hard to explain away 30 years of confessions,” the prosecutor said.

via Accused Etan Patz killer likely sexually assaulted him: lawyers | New York Post.

Nonetheless, Hernandez’s enabler attorney, Harvey Fishbein (related to Ninety-Nine Fishbein, perhaps?) argues that Hernandez is so stupid, that the police convinced him he murdered Etan Patz. From there, apparently, Hernandez went on to convince others, as People magazine noted between his trials:

Hernandez bragged about his alleged crime
According to investigators, Hernandez reportedly began telling his relatives about how he had murdered a child in 1981. The story became a rumor that was shared for years among his family members.

Hernandez was apprehended after police conducted interviews with his ex-wife and his sister. His ex-wife claimed she had once found a torn piece of a missing poster with Etan’s face inside a shoebox belonging to her husband. She also told authorities her ex had boasted about strangling someone in New York.

Police began investigating Hernandez after receiving a tip from his brother-in-law
According to court records, it was Hernandez’s brother-in-law, Jose Lopez, who initially tipped off police to his possible involvement in Patz’s disappearance and murder. Lopez had called police in 2004 with information about Hernandez’s criminal claims, and then came forward again in 2012.

But Fishbein says that Hernandez is crazy and stupid — IQ 67 stupid.

Is it really Hernandez that he thinks is stupid?

15 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trash Bags

  1. Josey Wales

    “99 Fishbein”….Nice.

    I started reading Nick Cole’s stuff after you featured it here. Good stuff, I’m now on the only book left that he wrote that I have not yet read. Kindle makes it easy….. ;-) Waiting on Wyrd #5……..

    1. Hognose Post author

      You got ahead of me. Well, I hate getting ahead of authors and then drumming my fingers impatiently as they write. Takes a lot longer to write a good book than to read it!

  2. Jacobs

    He’s had a lot of appearances over the past 27 years, I’d imagine. Why hasn’t anyone put a round in his chest from a distance while he’s being transferred around? Oh well, maybe I’m a little crazy.

  3. Kirk

    Y’know… I really don’t have a great deal of affection for child molesters or lawyers, but… In this case, I’m really thinking Fishbein might not be entirely on the side of the devil.

    What evidence is there, here? As in, real physical evidence? As far as my reading goes, and I have paid attention to this case, there’s really fuck-all for any proof that this nut job actually committed a crime. Sure, there’s the circumstances and the confession, but how many times have those led to miscarriages of justice before?

    Precautionary principle says “Lock him up, and if the only real cause is that he’s a weird dude who confessed to some heinous shit…? So be it.”.

    Things that don’t add up for me: First, the sort of people who do this are not the sort of people who tend towards the “One and done…” set of offenses. If he is guilty, where the hell are the other victims? There should be a trail of previously-abused children, not-quite-murdered ones, and some more bodies, somewhere–Given the way these cases normally run.

    The released details I’ve read about make me lean more towards “Nutter who became obsessed with case, exaggerated story, and got himself done for the crime…”.

    I’m a huge proponent for the death penalty, where appropriate, but before I let the state put someone to death in my name, I want to see some incontrovertible evidence that the party to be executed is actually the party responsible. What I see in this case doesn’t qualify.

    Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t belong in some form of restraint, either–You confess to shit like this, and that tends to make me think you’re at least thinking about doing it, and somewhat capable of it.

    Although, who the hell knows, really? There was a retired Catholic priest I knew as a young man who committed suicide in his seventies, and who left behind a note saying that he’d struggled all his life with the attraction and a desire to have carnal knowledge of teenage boys. He claimed he’d never actually done it, in the note, but could feel his impulse control slipping as he edged into senility, so he committed suicide before he lost his grip.

    I got contacted by a relative of his who wanted to know if I’d ever seen any signs of him having done things like that, and I couldn’t think of a single occasion where he’d gone even slightly off course in that regard. So, who really knows what inner life some of our daily acquaintances have, and what impulses they’re hiding behind smiling facades of innocence?

    1. John M.

      I’m with you on this one. This thing stinks. But I’d still feel better if this guy were locked up.

      -John M.

  4. Mike_C

    Here are some serious questions. If an IQ of 70 is supposed to be the magic threshold below which a person cannot (or rather should not, if you are of a particular set of political persuasions) be held accountable for his actions, is there a minimum threshold IQ to vote? Should there be? If you are too dumb to know right from wrong, should you be allowed to participate in making decisions and rules that affect other people?

    Going further, if IQ testing is culturally and racially biased (a view which goes with that set of political persuasions alluded to above), then what is the meaning of a “67-point IQ” in a man with a Hispanic surname? (Because Hispanic surname automatically equals victim of oppression.*) A reasonable person might, hell, would be compelled to, argue that his putative IQ is 67 only because he is not a white Anglo, and his “true intelligence” is higher, because cultural bias. But then he wouldn’t be too dumb to be responsible. (Crazy is of course a different issue.)

    In the same vein, if a distinct group** has, say a mean IQ of 85 (and one standard deviation was 15 in this group, i.e. same as the overall population), does this mean that approximately 16 percent of this population cannot be held responsible for their actions?

    * I have a good friend surnamed Lopez. If you have some time to kill and enjoy being yelled at by a tall, good-looking and professionally accomplished Spaniard, suggest to her that she is “an oppressed minority”; I was there when some sap made that mistake, and it was epic.
    **group with mean 85-point IQ: apparently this would be either conservatives, or Trump supporters (the Venn diagram of which has overlap, but not nearly as much as the left would like to pretend), if pop-pysch articles on “IQ and voting” that purport to show that conservativism and Trumpism are both correlated with low IQ are to be believed.

    1. John Distai

      Someone help me out here with the math.

      If 70 is the magic threshold, then 69 or less would qualify as “not responsible”. If the mean is 85, and the StDev. is 15, then Z = (69 – 85)/15. Z = – 1.067. The Z table for area under the curve for -1.067 is approximately 0.357. Wouldn’t 36% of that population be considered “not responsible”? Or am I missing some math step here?

      1. Mike_C

        Assuming a Gaussian distribution, about 68% is within 1SD of the mean, so 32% is not (i.e. more than 1SD out). Two tails, so half of 32, or 16% is leftward/below 1SD. At least that was my reasoning. That’s just off the top of my head though; could be off by a percent or two. (Then again, what’s the COV of an IQ test?

        1. John Distai

          I forgot that when looking at a Z table with all positive values I need to subtract the Z probability from 0.5 to get the left half of the curve.

          If or when my current gig falls flat, I may train to be a statistician. But then again, low cost, readily available machine learning may reduce the value of that profession.

          1. John M.

            At least to date, someone needs to teach the machines stuff. As the world spins out ridiculous amounts of data daily, there is a market for people who understand sadistics to make sense of it all.

            -John M.

          2. bloke_from_ohio

            Even when the math can be done completely by machines, someone has to be able to call out the damn lies and statistics for what they are. Half the utility of my training in statistics is the ability to detect and call out sketchy nonsense.

            -Overly Educated Operations Research Analyst

          3. Hognose Post author

            Best book for the non-STEM educated trying to grasp stats and how they’re used, especially by the innumerates in the media: How to Lie With Statistics. Slim, to the point, amusingly illustrated, continuously in print since 1954.

  5. Bill Robbins

    I am from NY and remember this case from when it occurred. During the 70s, the NY criminal justice system was at its worst. Since then, the system has improved. Now, it’s just as bad as everywhere else.

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