Just In: Levi Aron Pleads Not Guilty, Is Competent to Stand Trial


levi-aron3[Video below.] Levi Aron, charged with first degree murder in the death of Leiby Kletzky, pleaded not guilty short while ago. Aron was led into the Brooklyn courtroom today for his arraignment wearing handcuffs and leg irons. The not guilty plea was entered by his attorney.

Prosecutors said Aron kidnapped 8-year-old Kletzky from his neighborhood in Borough Park and gave him a toxic mix of prescription and over-the-counter drugs before smothering him. Aron then butchered the body, hiding part of it in his freezer.

Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Jennifer McCann said Aron has been found competent to stand trial. The finding was made after Aron was given a psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital.

His defense team seemed to have been laying the groundwork for an insanity defense weeks ago. They described Aron as “hearing voices” and needing to listen to music to drown them out.

Although he’s been found fit to stand trial, Aron’s lawyers say they can still pursue an insanity defense.

People who knew Leiby and his family were expected to pack the courtroom. What happened to Leiby was still very much on the mind of residents in the Orthodox community.

“I think about it, you know, when I walk the streets sometimes, I think about it,” one woman told CBS 2HD.

“The wife and the children, they’re nervous right away. If they don’t answer right away the telephone, they’re more nervous,” said Shlomo Landesman.

“My wife, when she puts the candles for Shabbos, she puts one candle more. I say ‘Why you put one candle more?’ She says ‘for Leiby Kletzy’,” Landesman added.

“Everybody says ‘we’re not going to talk about it’, but how can you not talk about it? How can you not talk about a tragedy that has affected every single family,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind said.

Investigators pulled dozens of bags of evidence out of Aron’s home in Kensington, Brooklyn. Some of the bags, CBS 2HD learned, contained children’s clothing, a child’s pillow, spoon and cup.

Prosecutors have so far refused to discuss the possibility that Aron may be involved in other cases involving children. Some answers may be forthcoming today, if prosecutors file more charges.

A mob taunted Aron weeks ago outside a police precinct with chants of “murderer.” Many hope he does not plead insanity.

Leiby’s parents were not expected to attend the court proceeding today. His mother is still not aware of all the details of the crime, CBS 2HD’s Lou Young reported. Meanwhile, the Leiby Kletzky Memorial Fund, which the family created to raise money for other needy families, has collected more than $260,000. It has a goal of raising $1 million.

Aron’s court case could take a year at least, his lawyers have said.

Click below for a video:

{CBS News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. who are theese sick lawyers defending
    a murderer? how do they get
    away with it? and how can this murederer plead
    not guilty????

  2. A society that allows murderers free are INSANE.If a murderer is sane enough to hide
    or get an attorney he is selectively insane.
    And if he is only partially insane he still should be locked up and prevented from murdering again. Misplaced mercy is a recipe for cruelty to the innocent.

  3. NBC says he is cooperative and forthcoming with the police, and that he thanked the investigators “for talking to him”. Seems like his behavior is a lot different than when he is acting psychotic.

  4. We can be 100% sure that from the minute this horrific calamity occurred, our contemporary Gedolay Torah, Sh’lita, have been seriously examining this question: According to the Torah, does this Mr. Levi Aron have the status of such a Shoteh – a severely insane person, who is not liable for punishment for his deeds?

    If, according to the Torah, he is NOT a Shoteh, then, what punishment should he be given? Should he be given the death penalty?

    If, according to the Torah, he IS a Shoteh, then, what should be done with him? He obviously has to be PUT AWAY! But how? Should he be put in jail for life? Should he be put in a mental institution for life?

  5. Even if Aron does get the death penalty, is that still a fullfilment of dam shofcho if done by a secular authority? Especially seeing as he may be insane (although a halachic shoteh and a clinically insane person may not be the same thing)

  6. (footnote to my above comment #12)

    About a year ago, there was the tragic case in Florida of Mr. Michael Grossman, A’H. (Every step of the story was extensively reported here at Matzav.) He had brutally murdered a woman park officer and was given the death penalty and actually executed. Before his execution though, the Bnei Torah communities very heavily petitioned the Governor of Florida to not execute him, for there were indications that he had been insane with mental retadation when he committed the bizzare murder. The call was that, instead of death, HE SHOULD BE KEPT IN JAIL FOR LIFE.

  7. (footnote to my above comment #12)

    In 1981, there was the very major tragic event of the attempted assassination, Rachmana Litzlan – May G-D save us, of the President of the United States! (Boruch HaShem, the President, Ronald Wilson Reagan, did survive the attack. The gun injury to him though, was very severe and he thus had to undergo immediate surgery to remove the bullet. He did recuperate pretty quickly and quickly resumed the duties of his office; however, from then on, he was greatly weakened. He did though continue to serve two full terms as president, and was considered to be one of the “giants” of American presidents.)

    The slime bag who did the shooting, John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., was an individual who was obviously greatly deranged. At his trial, the court declared him to be “not guilty” because he was insane.

    This lenient verdict brought much anger across the country. I well remember sitting in the dinning room of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn and hearing the “table talk” about this bizarre news. One of the senior Chavrei HaKollel exclaimed: “Well, anybody who kills someone is obviously ‘not normal’!!” (I privately told this Kollel man the further issue of the case: That even if Mr. Hinckley would be put into a mental hospital, latter on, if he would get better — at this, the man cynically exclaimed with heavy cynical laughter: “Oh, so they’ll say he had a ‘Refua Shelayma’ and let him out!!!!!”)

    The Rosh HaKollel, Rav Eliezer Ginsberg, Sh’lita, expressed the outrage in the sharpest way of all. In a Sichas Mussar, he was referring to conditions in the Europe of previous centuries; there, if the king even had a carriage accident — that was his fault — on your property, you were marked for death! As he described this, in a sharp voice, he angrily declared: “THIS WAS NOT AMERICA, WHERE YOU CAN SHOOT THE PRESIDENT AND GET OFF!!!!!”

    This national dismay prompted significant revisions in the rules for the usage of the insanity defense.

    Anyway, Mr. Hinckley was committed to one of the major psychiatric hospitals in the Washington, DC area. The statements about it were that he would be there for life. In effect, the authorities were saying to him: “You want us to say that you are crazy?? OK, we will say that you are crazy!! But that will include that WE ARE GOING TO TREAT YOU LIKE YOU ARE CRAZY!! WE ARE THUS GOING TO PUT YOU AWAY IN A MENTAL INSTITUTION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!!”

    However, over the last several years, the courts have given him permits to leave the hospital to visit his family for longer and longer periods of time.

    (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hinckley,_Jr.)