Levi Aron, charged with the kidnapping, murder and dismemberment of eight-year old Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn July 12, is fit to stand trial, his defense attorneys said. Aron entered a “not guilty” plea at an arraignment hearing in Brooklyn.
Standing outside the courthouse, Aron's attorney, 30-year old Jennifer McCann, said the finding that he is fit to stand trial was determined subsequent to a psychiatric evaluation that took place at New York's Bellevue Hospital.
Aron was placed on a suicide watch since his arrest July 13, and attorneys have been launching an insanity defense. They claimed that Aron manifests psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations. McCann said that the finding does not preclude them from going ahead with this line of defense.
Leiby Kletzky got lost on his walk home from the Boyaner day camp in Boro Park July 11 and asked Aron, whom he met on the street, for help, prosecutors said. It was the first time the little boy was allowed to walk alone, and he was supposed to have traveled about seven blocks to meet his mother but missed a turn.
About 33 hours later, detectives found Leiby's severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in Aron's freezer. A cutting board and three bloody carving knives were found in the refrigerator. The rest of the boy's body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin. His legs had been cut from his torso.
According to prosecutors, Aron, 35, a hardware supply stock clerk, said that he panicked upon seeing flyers about the boy's disappearance plastered all over Boro Park and his own Kensington neighborhood, and he confessed to suffocating Leiby with a bath towel.
Investigators were continuing to work on verifying his horrific and bizarre explanation for the boy's death. It remains unclear why Aron took the child in the first place. The medical examiner's office said the boy was given a cocktail of psychotropic drugs and then smothered.