The New York Times
August 4, 2011
In His Own Hand, a Suspect’s Account of a Grisly Crime
By LIZ ROBBINS
“My name is Levi Aron,” the writer began.
Then, in small, distinct print, and in short prosaic sentences on one full page of lined paper he submitted to the police, Mr. Aron told the story of how he had kidnapped, killed and systematically dismembered an 8-year-old boy who had gotten lost one afternoon in Brooklyn on the way back from camp and had sought his help.
Mr. Aron had taken to calling the boy by his first name, Leiby. But less than 36 hours later, Leiby Kletzky was dead, and at 8 a.m. on July 13, Mr. Aron, a 35-year-old hardware supply store clerk, was penning his confession in chilling, clinical detail.
The confession was part of a file of papers provided by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office to the defense as Mr. Aron was formally arraigned on Thursday on murder and kidnapping charges in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
The hearing lasted a few minutes; Mr. Aron, through his lawyers, pleaded not guilty.
A psychological exam arranged by the court concluded that Mr. Aron was competent to stand trial. His lawyers said they were considering an insanity defense.
In court, Mr. Aron displayed the dispassion evident in his writing. Shackled and dressed in a bright orange jail jumpsuit, he did not say a word. Nor did his eyes register a reaction to the plea as he faced Justice Neil J. Firetog.
The court filing added a dimension to what has been disclosed about Mr. Aron’s seemingly composed state after his arrest. It includes quips he made to detectives that day, including one observation: “I’m famous.”
Mr. Aron, who said he lived in an attic apartment in the same building in Kensington, Brooklyn, as his father, stepmother, two brothers and uncle, told a detective that he was “trying to get back into the Jewish religion.” But, according to the records, he acknowledged that he was not keeping kosher and that if the detectives were to get him food, he would eat McDonald’s. He ate Chinese food, instead.
When a female detective gave him a cigarette, Mr. Aron said: “This is a first. A woman holding my cigarette.”
Authorities said Leiby Kletzky had gotten lost July 11 walking for the first time back from his summer day camp in the insular Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park, and Mr. Aron said he had asked for directions to a Judaica store. Mr. Aron agreed to give him a ride, but the boy changed his mind about going to the store, and accepted Mr. Aron’s invitation to join him that evening at the wedding of a cousin in Monsey, N.Y. Mr. Aron told the police that the boy went inside with him and ate dinner there, although previous reports indicated that Leiby had stayed in the car the whole time.
“Nobody asked me about the boy,” Mr. Aron told the police, referring to the wedding guests, according to the documents disclosed by prosecutors. Investigators are still trying to determine the accuracy of some of Mr. Aron’s statements.
Mr. Aron said he drove Leiby to his apartment. At work the next day, Mr. Aron said, he panicked when he saw fliers about the missing boy, which offered a reward. When Mr. Aron returned to his apartment, Leiby was there waiting for him.
As if writing a medical report, Mr. Aron described how he dismembered the boy’s body, placing parts in his freezer. He said he showered, cleaned up a little, and showered again. He then put some of the body parts in a suitcase, drove around about 20 minutes with it and left it in a trash bin. “Then went home to clean and organize,” he wrote.
In a statement Thursday after Mr. Aron was found fit to stand trial, Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, said, “I want to reaffirm that this case will go to trial and that there are absolutely no circumstances which would lead me to accept a plea bargain.”
Mr. Aron’s defense team, Pierre Bazile and Jennifer L. McCann, asked that Mr. Aron be held at Bellevue Hospital Center for further evaluation and for his own safety. Justice Firetog said that was up to the corrections department.
Mr. Bazile said that “we believe him to have some psychiatric disorders” and said that the court-ordered psychological exam found that Mr. Aron had been hearing voices. The police documents report that Mr. Aron said those voices were “telling him to take his own life for what he did.”
His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 14.
Outside the courtroom, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who had attended the hearing, grew emotional when asked about the possibility that Mr. Aron’s lawyers would use an insanity defense.
“That would be an absolute tragedy, because that would indicate that that man that I saw this morning a few moments ago is not responsible for what he did,” Mr. Hikind said. “I don’t believe that for a second, and I don’t think anybody else believes that.”