Leiby Kletzky’s Killer, Levi Aron, Pleads Guilty to Murdering 8-Year-Old
Levi Aron pleaded guilty on Thursday to killing Leiby Kletzky, an 8-year-old boy whose disappearance last summer from the insular Hasidic community of Borough Park, Brooklyn, transfixed New York City through a search that ended with the discovery of his dismembered remains.
Mr. Aron, 36, arrived in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a skullcap and a full beard. In a flat tone softer than a whisper, he responded to a series of prepared questions from the judge about the crime, offering one-word answers but no additional details or emotional response.
An agreement with the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, under which he pleaded guilty to one charge of second-degree murder and one charge of second-degree kidnapping, calls for Mr. Aron to be sent to prison for at least 40 years. He is to be formally sentenced on Aug. 29. It will bring to a close an unusually ghastly case that stoked parents’ fears about allowing their children to walk the city’s streets alone and forced residents of Borough Park, one of the city’s safest neighborhoods, to confront violence that they had seen before only from afar.
Lawyers for Mr. Aron, who has a history of mental illness and had faced a possible life sentence, had considered using an insanity defense if the case went to trial. But Justice Neil J. Firetog told Mr. Aron on Thursday that “a defense of not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect would not be a viable defense.”
Leiby’s parents, who pushed for the plea agreement to avoid a trial where they would relive the horrors of their son’s death, did not attend the hearing. State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has served as a family spokesman, read a statement on their behalf that said they were eager to have the case conclude and did not wish to be contacted by reporters.