NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Brooklyn man who confessed to smothering and dismembering an 8-year-old boy lost on his first walk home alone was ordered on Thursday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after complaining of “hearing voices.”
Levi Aron, 35, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
At the request of defense lawyer Pierre Bazile, Judge William Miller place Aron on a suicide watch and ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
“He is hallucinating and is hearing voices in his head,” Bazile said as his client, wearing a green shirt and black yarmulke, pants and sneakers, stared at the courtroom floor.
Orthodox Jews, some from the tightknit community of Borough Park, where body parts of Leibby Kletzky were found stuffed into a freezer in Aron’s apartment on Wednesday, crowded into the packed courtroom.
Aron confessed to using a towel to smother the boy, who had approached him to ask directions when he got lost while walking home from day camp for the first time, according to court documents.
“He took him to his home and he has admitted to smothering him and dismembering him,” Assistant District Attorney Julie Rendelman said.
Scratch marks on the man’s arms indicate the boy put up a fierce struggle, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a press briefing on Thursday.
In a rambling confession, Aron said that on Monday night he took the boy with him to a wedding in Monsey, New York, and then brought him back to his apartment to sleep because it was late, Kelly said.
He said marks found on the boy’s body parts indicate he was tied up and held captive, possibly while Aron went to work at a parts supply store on Tuesday, returning home after his shift ended in the early evening.
Co-workers said Aron changed his appearance and seemed to be more closely shaved and “cleaned up,” Kelly said.
Aron said he killed the boy because he panicked when he saw the neighborhood plastered with posters about Leibby’s disappearance.
In response to a reporter asking whether the confession included a statement that “I may have done something wrong,” Kelly said, “He has not been characterized to me as remorseful.”
In Borough Park, a sea of Orthodox Jewish mourners divided into male and female waves poured in for the boy’s funeral on Wednesday night.
Nearby, in Kensington on Thursday, bright yellow police tape blocked the entrance to the multiple unit house where Aron lived.
Neighbors said Aron was never considered part of the community, which pulled together in times of crisis.
“We’re a very closely knit community where everyone knows everyone. He’s more of an outcast or an outsider,” said David Green, who lives nearby.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton