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Accused killer pleads guilty in murder of 8-year-old Brooklyn boy

Richard Drew / AP

Levi Aron, center, confers with his attorneys in New York state Supreme Court.

Accused child killer Levi Aron pleaded guilty Thursday in a Brooklyn courtroom to abducting, killing and dismembering Leiby Kletzky, the 8-year-old boy who was kidnapped when he got lost walking home from day camp in Borough Park last July.

A visibly heavier Levi Aron answered questions from Judge Neil Firetog in mostly one- or two-word responses. After he admitted "smothering" Leiby with a towel, Firetog asked Aron what he did next.

"Got rid of the body," said Aron.

Aron's plea is a milestone in the gruesome and heartbreaking case, which gripped the city and rocked the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community of both Aron and Kletzky. It also provides a measure of relief for Kletzky's devastated parents, who wanted to avoid the anguish of a trial, a family spokesman said.

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State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the district that includes the Kletzky family's Hasidic community, read a statement from the parents in court Thursday.

"There is no way to comprehend the pain ... our little boy Leiby was ruthlessly taken from us. Today we have receieved some partial closure. A day does not pass without thinking of Leiby ... may our son's soul rest in peace and continue to advocate in heaven for all mankind," he read. 

"We want to thank DA Hynes for bringing this to a quick resolution ... and not forcing us ... to relive this. We are grateful to God for giving us Leiby and our other children. God did not abandon our son or our family for even one second."

The judge will sentence him to 40 years to life on Aug. 29.

Last week, sources told the station that a tentative plea deal called for a sentence of 40 to 60 years in prison for Aron. He had previously pleaded not guilty.

Aron's attorney declined comment last week, as did the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

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"The family very much wanted to avoid a trial," Hikind said last week. "The pain they would go through is beyond comprehension. They are content with this and this is what they wanted."

Hikind, who said he would read the Kletzky family's statement in court, continued: "Leiby will always be missed. They want to go on with life as best they can. The family feels this will be justice ... They know it will not bring Leiby back."

Kletzky went missing July 11 of last year while walking home from religious day camp, the first time he was allowed to walk by himself. He missed his turn and got lost, and police say he approached Aron for help.

About two days later, the boy's severed feet were found in the freezer at Aron's apartment, along with bloody knives and a carving board. The rest of the boy's body was found in a red suitcase in a trash bin several blocks away. His legs had been cut from his torso.

According to prosecutors, Aron admitted he killed the boy after he panicked when he saw posters with the child's photo. After the two met on the street, Aron took the boy to a wedding upstate, then to his apartment.

Read a redacted transcript of his confession here.

The child remained at the apartment alone all day while Aron was at work. When Aron returned, he took a bath towel and smothered the boy, he said, according to authorities.

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, though marks were found on the child's body.

court-ordered evaluation in August found Aron fit to stand trial on murder charges, but said he is deeply troubled, with an adjustment disorder and a personality disorder with schizoid features.

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