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New Square Man Charged In Burning Of Aron Rottenberg Pleads Not Guilty

New Square resident Aron Rottenberg, 43, was hospitalized with burns to 50 percent of his body after an attack apparently sparked by a religious dispute. (Credit: Handout via CBS 2)

New Square resident Aron Rottenberg, 43, was hospitalized with burns to 50 percent of his body after an attack apparently sparked by a religious dispute. (Credit: Handout via CBS 2)

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NEW CITY, NY (CBSNewYork/AP) – The suspect accused of burning a New Square man over a religious dispute has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

Eighteen-year-old Shaul Spitzer is accused of severely burning Aron Rottenberg outside Rottenberg’s home in the Hasidic enclave of New Square.

Rottenberg’s family has said that Spitzer was acting at the direction of the village’s chief rabbi, David Twersky, because Rottenberg had stopped praying at Twersky’s synagogue.

Rottenberg was badly burned when police say Spitzer tried to burn down his home. Spitzer was also burned on his hands and arms.

Spitzer, in black Hasidic garb with a white bandage on his left hand, was accompanied by four bearded relatives as he was arraigned in Rockland County Court on charges of attempted murder, attempted arson and assault.

His lawyer, former Rockland District Attorney Kenneth Gribetz, entered not-guilty pleas to all charges.

Spitzer faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)