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Man who confessed to killing Etan Patz indicted

NEW YORK — A grand jury in Manhattan indicted a man on Wednesday who confessed to killing Etan Patz, a 6-year-old, in 1979, prosecutors said.

Pedro Hernandez was indicted on murder in the second degree and kidnapping in the first degree; he is expected to appear in court on Thursday.

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“This indictment is the outcome of a lengthy and deliberative process, involving months of factual investigation and legal analysis,’’ said a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney.

The trial still figures to be challenging. Hernandez’s lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, has said that Hernandez has a long history of mental illness that includes diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with visual and auditory hallucinations. His mental health history could be used to raise doubts about the reliability of his confession.

“The indictment is based solely on statements allegedly made by my client, who has, in the past, been repeatedly diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, and who has, over the last six months, been found to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder, which is characterized by, among other things, unusual perceptual experiences, commonly referred to as hallucinations,’’ Fishbein said in a statement.

Fishbein added that Hernandez has an IQ in the ‘‘borderline-to-mild mental retardation range.’’

Nonetheless, prosecutors were confident that the confession would stand up.

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