By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Levi Aron, who killed and dismembered 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, was clearly a broken man in Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday when he came to plead guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping — a plea that guarantees a sentence of 40 years to life.
Dressed in orange prison clothes and surrounded by attorneys, he responded by questions from Justice Neil Jon Firetog with barely audible, one-word answers.
As he clearly had more and more trouble answering questions, one of his attorneys, Howard Greenberg, put his arm around him.
With one question after another, Firetog took Aron through the events of July 11 and 12, 2011, when he talked Kletzky, who was coming home from day camp, into getting into his car. It was the first time Kletzky had been allowed to walk home alone.
Aron drove him Kletzky to a social event in Muncie, and then to his Borough Park home.
The series of events took a horrific turn when Aron, driven to panic after he saw “missing” posters for Kletzky, sedated him with his own prescription drugs, smothered him with a towel, dismembered him and disposed of the body parts in two dumpsters.
Aron, at Firetog’s prompting, gave up his right to appeal. Watching the proceedings at the side was Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters Barry Kamins, a well-respected legal scholar who was wearing his trademark bow tie.
About four-fifths of the people in the courtroom during the brief proceeding were reporters, but in the center of the front row was Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the spokesman for the Kletzky family.
Afterward, Hikind held a press conference in which he read a statement from Leiby’s parents, Menachem and Esther Kletzky.
They thanked District Attorney Charles J. Hynes for acceding to their wishes to bring the case to a speedy conclusion, and thanked the thousands of people who had written them from all over the world.
“Today my family has finally received some partial closure on one aspect of this nightmare,” Hikind read from the statement.
“Closure does not mean we don’t continue to feel the pain. A day doesn’t pass without our thinking of Leiby — but today we close the door on this one aspect of our tragedy and seek to remember only the gifts that God has bestowed, including the nine years Leiby was with us.”
Afterward, one reporter asked Hikind whether Kletzky’s mental illness could have been spotted before he was driven to commit such a horrendous crime.
“There are lots of people we see every day who with think are odd, or strange,” Hikind answered. “Ninety-nine percent of them never do anything like this. I myself saw [Aron] when I went into the hardware store where I worked, and thought nothing of him."