NEW YORK (AP) — The man accused in the kidnapping and dismemberment killing of an 8-year-old New York City boy told detectives his victim put up a struggle and that afterward he was hearing voices telling him “to take his own life for what he did,” according to court papers made public Thursday.
Police say Levi Aron made the remarks last month around the time he directed them to a trash bin where he dumped a red suitcase containing body parts. As the interrogation wore on, Aron told them, “I’m famous,” the papers say.
The 35-year-old defendant also was asked if he knew anything about past sex crimes against children. The papers say he recounted how a man groped him on a subway train when he was a teenager.
“But I never did that to a child because I don’t swing that way,” he said.
The alleged statements, including a written confession, were turned over to the defense on Thursday at an arraignment where Aron pleaded not guilty. His lawyers also learned that a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation had found him competent to stand trial.
The lawyers – who claim Aron has complained of hearing voices – said they still plan to conduct their own exams to determine whether to pursue an insanity defense.
Outraged members of the victim’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community “should allow the judicial process to take its course,” one of the attorneys, Pierre Bazile, said outside court.
Bazile entered the not guilty plea for his Jewish client, who did not speak at a brief arraignment in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. The defendant appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him.
“Now that Mr. Aron has been found fit to proceed we will move forward expeditiously to bring his case to trial,” District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement. “I want to reaffirm that this case will go to trial and that there are absolutely no circumstances which would lead me to accept a plea bargain.”
Leiby Kletzky got lost on his walk home from a religious day camp on July 11 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.
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,” Aron wrote in his confession, according to the court papers.
The defendant, a hardware supply store clerk, described his decision to take the boy to a wedding upstate. He said when they returned, they watched television before the boy fell asleep. He remained there the next day while Aron went to work.
By that time, the disappearance had sparked a major search effort in his insular community in Borough Park. The boy’s picture was plastered on light posts around the area.
“When I saw the fliers, I was panicky and afraid,” police say Aron wrote. Once home, he added: “I went for a towel to smother him. He fought back a little until he eventually stopped breathing.”
The detectives’ notes also outline alleged statement 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.
Despite the alleged confession, police and prosecutors say they are continuing to work on verifying Aron’s horrific and bizarre explanation for the boy’s death. It remains unclear why Aron would have taken the child in the first place.
The medical examiner’s office said the boy was given a cocktail of prescription drugs. But Aron’s confession didn’t mention that, and he denied ever tying up the boy.
The suspect was asked if he wanted a kosher meal. “No, I’ll eat anything,” he replied, according to the documents. They considered McDonald’s before settling on Chinese food.
Before the arraignment, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind told reporters that the victim’s family and community were still coming to grips with the gruesome slaying.
“The idea of an insanity defense is just not acceptable,” Hikind said. “He planned and plotted this entire horror that he committed.”
A pretrial hearing was set for Oct. 14.
Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.