July 14, 2011 -- The suspect in the murder and dismemberment of an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy is hearing voices, his lawyer said, and has been placed on suicide watch following his arraignment today on a first-degree murder charge.
Levi Aron, 35, entered a not guilty plea at Brooklyn Criminal Court in the murder of Leiby Kletzky.
Aron's attorney, Pierre Bazile, asked for a psychiatric exam for his client, saying, "I have some serious concerns about the defendant's mental state." He said that Aron said he was hearing voices.
Aron looked down and was stony-faced and silent during the proceeding. The attorney asked for his client to be placed on suicide watch, saying, "I'm very concerned for his well-being."
Earlier, when police took Aron out of the precinct house, he ducked as an angry crowd screamed, "Murderer!"
Kletzky was was abducted on his way home from camp on Monday. The child struggled for his life before he was apparently suffocated to death, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said today.
Kelly said the medical examiner has not yet established a time of death or definitive cause of death, but that tentatively "it's a result of suffocation." There is no indication so far of molestation, Kelly said. There appears to be a ligature mark on the boy's body, suggesting he was tied up.
In his confession Aron allegedly said he suffocated Kletzky with a towel and then cut up his body. Kelly indicated that police believe the confession is largely true. "He has been reasonably forthcoming. The bulk of what he's said is believed to be correct," he said.
In the confession, Aron talks about finding the boy on the street and asking him if he wanted to come to a wedding and taking him for a ride, Kelly said. He said the child was in the abductor's custody by 5:40 p.m. on Monday.
Kelly confirmed that Aron went to a wedding in Monsey, an Orthodox community in Rockland County north of New York City, on Monday night. "We believe he did go to the wedding in Monsey. We cannot say definitively if the boy was with him."
Sources close to the investigation say the probers are "skeptical" of the alleged killer's account of traveling with the child in tow.
Aron told police that after the wedding, "It was late and he took him to his apartment and the boy fell asleep," Kelly said. In his confession, Aron claims they watched television for a while and then slept in different rooms. Aron, who is divorced, lives alone in an attic in a building shared with his father and uncle.
Aron went to work on Tuesday for his usual shift ending at 4:45 p.m. at a hardware store in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Kelly said, having trimmed his beard more closely than usual before leaving for work.
In the confession, he said that the boy was still there when he returned home, and he made him a tuna sandwich, then panicked when he realized the extent of the search for the child and suffocated him with a towel before dismembering him.
"He goes into some graphic detail about how the boy died," said Kelly.
He said Aron will be tested at Bellevue Hospital.
At the end of his confession he wrote, "I understand this may be wrong and I'm sorry for the hurt that I have caused," Kelly said. "Other than that, he has not been characterized as being remorseful," the commissioner said.
Kelly noted that police officers see a lot of violence, but said that usually "there's usually some sort of irrational twisted logic" behind criminal deeds. "Here it defies all logic. That's what's so terribly distressing about this case. There's nothing more innocent than an 8-year-old child."
There is no reason "at this time" to believe that the suspect is linked to other missing children cases, Kelly said, but added: "Obviously this is an area we are looking at." He said police would be examining Aron's computer for further evidence.
Police arrested Aron Wednesday and his promptly confessed.
Leiby was reported missing Monday when he did not meet his mother at a pre-arranged location seven blocks from his camp. Police say the boy and the mother had gone to the location Friday and she had showed him the route he was to take.
Police say Leiby missed the turn he was to take to meet his mother. He was lost and asked a stranger, Aron, for directions, police said.
According to his statement, first reported by WNBC and confirmed by ABC News, Aron told police the boy was lost and wanted a ride to a bookstore, but then lost interest.
"So I asked if he wanted to go for the ride -- (a) wedding in Monsey -- since I didn't think I was going to stay for the whole thing since my back was hurting. He said OK," Aron told police.
Aron told police he planned to return Kletzky to his home Tuesday. Apparently unaware that a search was already in progress for the boy, Aron left his home Tuesday and was alarmed to find photos of the missing boy on fliers distributed in the neighborhood.
"When I saw the flyers I panicked and was afraid," he told police. "I was still in panic ... and afraid to bring him home. That is when I went for a towel to smother him in the side room. He fought back a little bit."
Now with the body of a dead boy in his home, he told police he panicked again "because I didn't know what to do with the body." He detailed to police how he dismembered the body.
The remains were found in two Brooklyn locations, two and a half miles from each other. Body parts were found in a black plastic garbage bag inside of suitcase in a dumpster and in the refrigerator of the third-floor attic of the home where Aron lived, police said.
Thousands had gathered for the youth's funeral Wednesday night in an emotional outpouring that followed the devastation when a frantic two-day search ended with Kletzky's dismembered body discovered in a bloody suitcase.
Aron was identified through surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.
Some of Boy's Remains Were Found in Suspect's Refrigerator
When they arrived at Aron's apartment at about 2:40 a.m., they found the door slightly ajar. The suspect was standing shirtless in the middle of the room. When asked where the boy was, he pointed toward the kitchen, police said.
There was blood on the refrigerator handle and police found a cutting board and three carving knives inside along with remains that are believed to be the boy's, police said. Aron also directed them to the dumpster where more remains were found, police said.
There is no indication that Aron was connected to the boy or his family in any way prior to this incident, police said.