The 35-year-old hardware store clerk accused of abducting an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy off the street and killing him before cutting up his body has
Levi Aron pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and was ordered held without bail. He is accused of snatching Leibby Kletzky on Monday and taking him to his apartment, where police say he suffocated and dismembered him.
His attorney, Pierre Bazile, said Aron hears voices and has hallucinations. A psychiatric exam was ordered.
“His demeanor is not good,” Bazile said, adding his condolences to the boy’s family.
As Aron was led into and out of the courtroom, other prisoners awaiting arraignment at the courthouse could be heard jeering and yelling at him.
Aron wrote in a confession exclusively obtained by NBC New York that: “I understand this may be wrong and I’m sorry for the hurt that I have caused.” (Read a redacted transcript of Aron’s alleged confession here.)
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday that Aron has shown “no remorse,” at times giggling when speaking with investigators.
Kelly said the boy appeared to have defensive wounds, which leads investigators to believe he fought back when he was being smothered to death.
Aron had told police in his confession that he let the boy sleep while he went to work on Tuesday, but Kelly said the child appeared to have been restrained. Officials think he might have been tied up in the apartment while Aron went to work.
Kelly said Aron denies sexually assaulting Kletzky. He said police are still trying to figure out when the boy was killed. His remains were found in Aron’s refrigerator and in a Dumpster about two and a half miles away.
In his confession, Aron told police that he took the boy to a wedding upstate on Monday, the night he is accused of abducting him. Kelly said witnesses saw Aron there, but so far have no information that the boy was there.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said investigators are poring over Aron’s computer and looking into whether he approached other children in New York and Memphis, Tenn., where he briefly lived.
Meanwhile, mourners lined the streets of Borough Park Wednesday night to honor the boy’s memory.
His grieving parents were joined by thousands from the community at a Borough Park synagogue for Kletzky’s funeral service, with speakers broadcasting over a loudspeaker and intermittently breaking down in sobs. They spoke and chanted in Yiddish, stressing the community’s resilience and unity after what one called an unnatural death.
“There’s no greater pain than this,” one said, as translated by a mourner.
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Among the women, who listened separately from men according to Hasidic custom, some said their children attended the same day camp from which Kletzky was walking home from when he disappeared. It was open Wednesday and counselors were on hand to help the children deal with the news.
“This is not human,” said Moses Klein, 73, a retired caterer who lives near the corner where the boy was last seen.