The man accused of dismembering an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy “hears voices” and has “hallucinations,” his attorney told a judge Thursday, fueling speculation that he’ll mount an insanity defense.
“We have concerns for his mental state. He doesn’t appear to be all well,” said attorney Pierre Bazile after suspected killer Levi Aron pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn Criminal Court to killing Leiby Kletzky.
Aron, 35, remained silent during the hearing where he was charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder. He was held without bail, put on suicide watch and ordered undergo a psychiatric evaluation while a grand jury hears his case. He is set to return to court on July 28.
In a city raw with outrage over the horrific murder, fellow jail inmates screamed “murderer” and “stab him,” and citizens chased the police car that transported him, yelling “child killer.”
Meanwhile, more details of Kletzky’s final hours emerged.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said scratches on Aron’s arms and “ligature marks on the boy’s body” show that Kletzy may have been bound and that he fought for his life.
Authorities believe the boy was smothered with a bathroom towel before Aron allegedly dismembered him with three kitchen knives on a cutting board, which also were found in his bloody refrigerator.
Kletzky went missing Monday after he left his Borough Park camp alone to meet his mother. He asked Aron for help when he got lost. Aron said the boy waited for him outside a dentist’s office, while he paid a bill and then they went to a wedding in Monsey, N.Y. That, however, could not be confirmed.
Later, he said he took Kletzky to his apartment, where he panicked and killed the boy after learning that hundreds from their Orthodox Jewish community were looking for the child.
"Other than insanity, there is no remotely reasonable explanation or defense as to why, if all the allegations are true, anyone would harm a child in such a sinister manner," said criminal defense attorney Jeremy Saland.
James Cohen, a Fordham University law professor, said an insanity defense makes sense given the amount of evidence and the confession. The defense “would have to be able to show [Aron] couldn’t differentiate the wrongfulness of his acts.”
Aron, a divorced stock clerk with no prior criminal record, said he was “sorry for the hurt that I caused," but expressed no remorse, Kelly said.