Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
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Levi Aron has formally pleaded guilty to the gruesome murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, a little more than a year ago.
Speaking in a courtroom in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Aron softly mumbled yes, no and short answers to a series of questions by Judge Neil Firetog, confirming all the major details of the crime.
The plea, to charges of second-degree murder and kidnapping, guarantees a sentence of 40 years to life for the 36-year-old Aron. He waived his right to appeal.
Even with a microphone, Aron could barely be heard, as he gave answers to questions his attorneys had scripted together with the prosecutors.
"As I understand the facts, you took an 8-year-old boy off the streets," Firetog said. "Are these facts true?"
"Yes," Aron said.
Defense attorney Jennifer McCann said her client is remorseful about the crime — even if he didn't show it in the courtroom.
“He's unable to really express his emotions the way you and I would typically do it. He shows his sorrow and remorse and regret in his embarrassment and his tendency not to want to answer questions, as well as things he's expressed under doctor-patient confidentiality that we won't reveal,” she explained.
Aron will be eligible for parole 40 years, but his sentence could be continued, or he could be released to a state mental health facility.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes made the plea arrangement in close consultation with the Kletzky family.
The family was "eager to see this concluded and grateful to D.A. Hynes," Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who's acted as a family spokesman, said in a statement before the plea. "The last thing they want is to relive the horror of losing their child."
Leiby's mother is expecting a baby in about six weeks, Hikind said. The family was not present in the courtroom.
The case attracted international attention.
Eight-year-old Leiby was walking home alone from summer day camp for the first time, took a wrong turn and got lost.
The back-and-forth laid out the story of how Aron took Leiby up to a weeknight wedding in Rockland County, and back to his apartment, where he kept him before killing him.
Leiby's disappearance set-off a vast manhunt, and Aron said he "panicked" and then tried to drug the boy before smothering him with a towel, and trying to dispose of the body by dismembering it and putting it in a suitcase.
With the Associated Press