NYC man pleads guilty in boy's dismemberment death

Associated Press
Levi Aron, center, listens to proceeding with his attorneys Howard Greenberg, left,and Pierre Bazile, in New York state Supreme Court, in New York's Brooklyn borough, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. Aron pleaded guilty to charges he abducted and dismembered Leiby Kletzky, an 8-year-old boy who became lost in Brooklyn after leaving a day camp. The plea will result in a sentence of 40 years to life in prison. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, Pool)
.

View gallery

NEW YORK (AP) — Looking dazed and speaking barely above a whisper, a Brooklyn hardware store clerk pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he abducted and dismembered an 8-year-old boy who lost his way home.

The guilty plea to second-degree murder and kidnapping guarantees Levi Aron a sentence of 40 years to life in a case that traumatized the victim's tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community.

Aron, 36, had previously pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and, if convicted, would have faced life without parole. But the family of Leiby Kletzky urged prosecutors to strike a deal to avoid the painful spectacle of a trial.

"There is no way one can comprehend or understand the pain of losing a child," the boy's father, Nachman Kletzky wrote in a statement distributed to the media. But he added that the plea gave the family "some partial closure on one aspect of this nightmare."

Legal closure came Thursday afternoon after an expressionless Aron was led into the courtroom wearing an orange jail jump suit, handcuffs and a yarmulke.

Judge Neil Firetog began by telling him that after seeing psychological reports, he was convinced claiming mental illness was "not a viable defense."

The judge then had Aron answer a series of often leading questions about his conduct. His one-word responses were delivered in a low, flat monotone after long pauses and prodding by his lawyers.

Aron expressed no remorse and only hinted at motive: At one point he told the judge he felt "panic" when he found out there was a frantic search on for the boy, who was still alive in his apartment.

The judge asked him what he decided to do, and he responded simply, "Smother." He also answered yes when asked if he had bound and drugged Leiby.

Afterward, defense attorney Jennifer McCann insisted that her client, though under medication, knew what he was doing.

"He came here to accept responsibility for his actions," McCann said. "He understands the charges."

The plea deal means Aron could technically qualify for a parole, but only if he survives in prison into his mid-70s.

"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," District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.

One of the city's most gruesome crimes in recent memory began with a chance encounter last summer on the streets of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, home to one of the world's largest Hasidic communities outside Israel.

The victim got lost on his walk home from a religious day camp and asked Aron, whom he met on the street, for help, prosecutors said. It was the first time the little boy was allowed to walk alone, and he was supposed to travel about seven blocks to meet his mother but missed a turn.

According to court papers, the defendant himself provided authorities a disturbing narrative of what happened next.

During an interrogation after his arrest and in a written confession, Aron recounted how the boy first asked for a ride to a book store. But "on the way, he changed his mind and wasn't sure he wanted to go."

The defendant described deciding to take the boy to a wedding upstate. He said when they returned, they watched television before the boy fell asleep. Leiby remained there watching TV the next day while Aron went to work at the hardware store.

By that time, Borough Park was buzzing over the disappearance. The boy's picture was plastered on light posts around the area.

"When I saw the fliers, I was panicky and afraid," police said Aron wrote. Once home, he added: "I went for a towel to smother him. He fought back a little until he eventually stopped breathing."

Detectives' notes also outlined statements by Aron about how he carved up the body with knives and disposed of body parts, including the severed feet found wrapped in plastic his freezer. A cutting board and three bloody carving knives were found in the refrigerator.

The rest of the boy's body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin. His legs had been cut from his torso.

Aron claimed that after the killing he was hearing voices telling him "to take his own life for what he did," according to court papers.

As the interrogation wore on, detectives said Aron made clear he was aware of his own notoriety.

"I'm famous," he said.

___

AP radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Trump slapped with federal lawsuit in New York

      A group of American lawyers on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, accusing the US president of violating a constitutional ban on accepting payments from foreign governments. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is pursuing Trump over his vast business holdings, from which the billionaire has refused to divest fully, saying that as president he can have no conflict of interest. CREW says Trump's business properties abroad operate based partly on goodwill from foreign governments and regulators, but that under the US Constitution no federal official can receive a gift or "emolument" from a foreign government.

      AFP
    • Man convicted of 3 murders as teen kills himself in prison

      CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) — A man who broke into a classmate's home in 2007 and stabbed the teenager and his parents to death has killed himself in prison, authorities said Monday.

      Associated Press
    • China says will protect South China Sea sovereignty

      By Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it had "irrefutable" sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the White House vowed to defend "international territories" in the strategic waterway. White House spokesman Sean Spicer in his comments on Monday signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in Asia. "The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there," Spicer said when asked if Trump agreed with comments by his secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson.

      Reuters
    • Discarded protest signs from the Women’s March in NYC (28 photos)

      Following the march in New York City, protesters left behind thousands of signs around Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Many signs left near a construction site were taken home by admirers as souvenirs. One group of placards was made into an art installation on East 57th Street, while many of these great signs were discarded near receptacles along Fifth Avenue waiting for sanitation. (Yahoo News) Photography by Gordon Donovan /Yahoo News _____ Related slideshows: Slideshow: Signs of the Women's March around the world >>> Slideshow: Women's March on Washington, D.C. >>> Slideshow: Women’s March around the world >>> Slideshow: How newspapers covered President's Trump inauguration >>> Slideshow: Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S. >>> Slideshow: Protests worldwide against the inauguration of Donald Trump >>> Slideshow: Obama's Washington >>> Slideshow: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day >>> Slideshow: 66 hands on 66 Bibles >>> See more news-related photo galleries , and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Minnesota Gov. Dayton, 69, collapses during speech

      ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed while delivering his State of the State speech on Monday, striking his head on a lectern. The 69-year-old Democrat appeared to be conscious as he was helped into a back room several minutes later, and a top staffer said he walked out of the Capitol under his own power.

      Associated Press
    • Royals' Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic.

      Associated Press
    • What's in the Box? Social Media Goes Wild Over Tiffany's Gift Melania Trump Gave Michelle Obama

      It led to an awkward exchange after Michelle Obama was unsure what to do with the gift.

      Inside Edition
    • The Sig P320 is the U.S. Army's New Sidearm

      The new pistol replaces the 80s vintage M9 handgun.

      Popular Mechanics
    • 12 bodies found in Mexican tourist town: officials

      A dozen bodies -- including seven that were headless and mutilated -- were discovered over the weekend in western Mexico's seaside resort of Manzanillo, apparent victims of the country's epidemic of drug violence, local officials said. It was a shocking turn of events for an area popular with American and other foreign tourists, which until now had largely been spared from the bloody drug wars wracking other parts of Mexico. Seven bodies were found early Saturday in an abandoned taxi on the road from Manzanillo to the town of Cihuatlan.

      AFP
    • Chelsea Clinton shuts down trolls who targeted Barron Trump

      Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton has spoken out in defence of Barron Trump, the US president's youngest son, after trolls targeted him with cruel memes online during the inauguration.  In a Facebook post Chelsea, who spent much of her teenage years in the spotlight while her dad Bill Clinton was president, said the 10-year-old "deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid".  But she also turned political: "Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids". Criticism of Barron's facial expressions and posture during the inauguration was widespread on social media, with people mocking him and calling him out for looking bored.  A Saturday Night Live writer even tweeted: "Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter". The tweet was later deleted.  People on Facebook praised Chelsea for defending Barron while also expressing her political ideas:  BONUS: Donald Trump's inauguration address included a Bane quote ›

      Mashable
    • Hugo Barra leaves Xiaomi, says China has ‘taken a huge toll on my life’

      Smartphone startup Xiaomi began life as a peculiar beast. From within the safety of China, the company did all it could to copy every last detail of Apple's devices and marketing strategy, knowing there was precious little Apple could do to stop it. When Apple's portfolio was exhausted, Xiaomi moved on to Samsung, copying a large portion of its device lineup as well. But then, the company realized that it could only go so far selling phones in China and a handful of other markets. As growth was on track to slow substantially, Xiaomi knew that it had to work its way into other top-tier markets around the world. And so Xiaomi Global was born. The Xiaomi subsidiary has hit a few rough patches over the course of the past three-plus years, but today may be its roughest to date. On Monday, Xiaomi Global VP Hugo Barra announced that he is leaving the company. In a post on Facebook, Barra confirmed that he is leaving the company and moving back to Silicon Valley. "When Lei Jun and Bin Lin came to me nearly four years ago with the opportunity to help turn a young rockstar startup into a global player, I embarked on what has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life," Barra wrote . "I moved to Beijing, 6,500 miles out of my comfort zone in Silicon Valley, to build from scratch a startup team within a bigger startup. This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world." Then, his post took a curious turn. "But what I've realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health," Barra said. "My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return." It's unclear exactly what Barra means when he says that working at Xiaomi in Beijing has "taken a huge toll" on his life and affected his health, but he goes on to run down some of the things Xiaomi Global has accomplished since he joined the company. Most notably, the company has expanded sales into Russia, Mexico, Malaysia and more than 20 additional markets. Of note, Barra will still play a role at Xiaomi moving forward. Mi president and cofounder Bin Lin confirmed in a post on Facebook that Barra will be an advisor to the company following his departure. "When Hugo joined us 3.5 years ago, we started an amazing adventure to turn Xiaomi into a global player," Lin wrote . "We have come a long way since, and I couldn’t thank him enough for contributing so much to Xiaomi’s journey. As much as we would love to have Hugo stay with us in Beijing for a much longer time, we understand his personal challenges and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I’m also looking forward to working closely with him in his new role as advisor to Xiaomi."

      BGR News
    • 2018 BMW M4: Light Updates

      This year's evolution of the M4.

      Car and Driver
    • In photos: The bestselling cookbooks of 2016 (10 photos)

      Ina Garten's "Cooking for Jeffrey" was the bestselling cookbook of 2016, selling nearly 406,600 copies within two months of its release in late October.Described as her most personal cookery title yet, "Cooking for Jeffrey" is a compilation of recipes that Garten has been cooking or her husband over the last 48 years of their marriage.  Here are the top 10 selling cookbooks of 2016 in the US, according to Nielsen BookScan. 

      AFP Relax News
    • Protesters take control of Mexican border crossing with US

      TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Protesters took control of vehicle lanes at one of the busiest crossings on the U.S. border Sunday to oppose Mexican gasoline price hikes, waving through motorists into Mexico after Mexican authorities abandoned their posts.

      Associated Press
    • Dwarf galaxies shed light on dark matter

      The first sighting of clustered dwarf galaxies bolsters a leading theory about how big galaxies such as our Milky Way are formed, and how dark matter binds them, researchers said Monday. Seven clusters of three-to-five galaxies are each 10 to 1,000 times smaller than the Milky Way. "We suspect these groups are gravitationally bound and thus will eventually merge to form one larger, intermediate-mass galaxy," said lead author Sabrina Stierwalt, an astrophysicist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlotteville, Virginia.

      AFP
    • China urges Trump administration to grasp importance of 'one China'

      BEIJING (Reuters) - The new U.S. administration must fully understand the importance of the "one China" policy and appreciate that the issue of Taiwan is highly sensitive for the Beijing government, China said on Monday. U.S. President Donald Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday, said in December the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China". Earlier, Trump broke with decades of precedent by taking a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. ...

      Reuters
    • How to Work With a Boss You Hate

      Love your job but can't stand your boss? You've got plenty of company, according to Gallup research that shows half of workers in the U.S. have quit a job at some point because they didn't like their supervisor.

      U.S.News & World Report
    • Good Samaritan Shot Dead While Trying to Stop Mall Robbery

      The suspect has been charged with capital murder.

      Inside Edition
    • Trump makes early move on restricting abortions around the world

      By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday reinstated a global gag rule that bans U.S.-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion, a move that was widely expected but nonetheless dismayed women's rights advocates. The rule, which affects American non-governmental organizations working abroad, is one that incoming presidents have used to signal their positions on abortion rights. It was created under U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

      Reuters
    • Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him.

      Associated Press