NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man has pleaded guilty to abducting and killing a Brooklyn boy who asked him for directions last year.
Levi Aron, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a full beard, entered the plea Thursday afternoon as part of a deal that would result in a sentence of 40 years to life in prison.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports
“I will sentence the defendant on murder in the second degree to 25 years to life, and on the kidnapping, 15 years,” the judge said in court Thursday.
He will be sentenced on Aug. 29.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports from Brooklyn Supreme Court
Prosecutors said Aron killed 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky on July 11, 2011, and then dismembered his body.
The 36-year-old hardware store clerk spoke in barely a whisper as he confessed the crime and answered questions from the judge at Thursday’s court appearance, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“You gotta speak loud enough so I can hear you,” said the judge, who needed almost 15 minutes to guide Aron through the elements of the crime.
Defense attorney Jennifer McCann said medications affect the way Aron looks and speaks, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“The flat affect that you saw today, his very low voice, shallow words and few syllables is actually part of his mental condition,” McCann said. “He’s very remorseful in his own way, and, unfortunately, his mental capacities preclude him from expressing them in a way you or I would normally find typical.”
Aron admitted to kidnapping Kletzky from his neighborhood in the Kensington section of Borough Park, taking the boy to a wedding in Rockland County and then back to his apartment. There, he gave the boy a toxic mix of prescription and over-the-counter drugs before smothering him with a towel.
Aron then butchered the boy’s body, hiding part of it in his freezer. Aron said he put the rest of the remains in a suitcase and brought them to a dumpster.
Police said Aron killed Kletzky because he panicked after seeing flyers of the missing 8-year-old around the neighborhood.
Aron had originally pleaded not guilty in the case, but State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the Kletzky family agreed to the plea deal so as not to hear the gruesome details of their son’s death in court. Parents Nachman and Esti Kletzky were not in attendance Thursday, CBS 2’s Aiello reported.
“They didn’t want to have to go through a trial just because I think anyone can imagine to have to listen to the horror, to have to listen to the details,” Hikind said.
The lawmaker called the 8-year-old’s death “the worst tragedy that’s ever happened to us,” but said it has united the Brooklyn community that he represents and beyond.
After the guilty plea, Hikind read a statement from the Kletzky family, thanking the District Attorney “for bringing this to a quick resolution as we requested, for not forcing us to relive the terror that began when Leiby went missing.”
“Our little boy Leiby was ruthlessly taken from us. Today, my family has received some partial closure on one aspect of this nightmare. Closure does not mean we don’t continue to feel the pain,” Hikind said.
“Leiby was everyone’s child; everyone felt this pain and wanted to help. Today, we all remain a little more united.”
Kletzky’s parents wanted to avoid the pain of trial and move on with their lives. In fact, Leiby’s mom is pregnant and expecting a child next month.
Aron pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping.
“With this guilty plea, I hope the process of healing and hopefully closure can begin for the Kletzky family and community,” District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement. “No one should ever forget what happened to Leiby Kletzky but we can all take solace that Levi Aron will never, ever be able to hurt anyone again.”
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