The man charged with killing a 6-year-old New York City boy who infamously vanished in 1979 pleaded not guilty Wednesday as his lawyer insisted his confession to police was false.

Pedro Hernandez, 51, wore a gray sweatsuit and answered "not guilty" at the hearing in the case of Etan Patz, whose disappearance helped spawn the movement to publicize cases of missing children nationwide.

"My client had no motive and no history," defense attorney Harvey Fishbein said outside court.