The man who confessed to murdering and dismembering eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, a Chassidic boy in Brooklyn, will spend 40 years to life in prison.
Justice Neil J. Firetog handed down the sentence to Levi Aron, 37, in a Brooklyn courtroom Wednesday a year after the grisly murder.
Aron, who has a history of mental illness, kidnapped the little boy in Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood when he stopped him to ask directions after becoming lost on his way home from summer day camp.
The killer took the boy home with him, took him to a wedding out of town, brought him back to his house, and then drugged and smothered him to death. He then cut the boy's body up into pieces, storing his feet in the freezer, and wrapping the other parts of his body in a black plastic bag before placing them in a suitcase that was found in a trash dumpster about a mile away.
The tight-knit Chassidic community that resides in the neighborhood had fanned out to search for the boy upon learning of his abduction. When his body was found, residents were shocked by the murder, and drew together to support the family.
Video footage from a surveillance camera in the neighborhood helped police track down the little boy – and his murderer.
In an agreement worked out between Aron's attorneys, attorneys Howard Greenberg, Jennifer McCann, and Pierre Bazile, and the district attorney's office, Aron pleaded guilty to one charge of second-degree murder, and one charge of second-degree kidnapping.
The charges followed a battery of psychological testing that concluded Leiby's murderer did not qualify for the insanity defense, despite the way in which he treated the little boy's body.
It was in order to avoid the ordeal of a traumatizing trial that would have forced the family to relive the horror of hearing the details of the child's murder that Nachman and Esther Kletzky agreed to the plea deal, according to their spokesperson, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. The lawmaker added that in any event, he was certain that no parole board would ever allow Levi Aron to go free.
Aron has expressed remorse in private, his attorneys have said, although he has made no public statements. They have requested that he be placed in solitary confinement at Rikers Island in order to protect him from the other inmates. “There are a lot of sick, demented people that reside in the jails,” said one of his attorneys, Howard Greenberg.