Levi Aron, the man who confessed to killing and dismembering 8-year-old Hasidic boy Leiby Kletzky last month, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping charges during his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court this morning. Aron was also deemed fit to stand trial after his lawyers tried to argue that he was insane—they say that he hears voices and hallucinates. According to court records, Aron even bragged to cops, "I'm famous," after he was arrested.
Aron said nothing during his court appearance, and was taken back to Bellevue Hospital afterwards to undergo more psychological tests while he awaits trial. His lawyers had previously said that they are planning to ask the judge for a change of venue, arguing that the jury pool has been tainted by the media scrutiny.
Authorities have revealed much of the evidence they plan to use against Aron at trial—they have extensive surveillance footage that shows Leiby talking to a man and following him to a brown car later traced to Aron. There are the marks on Leiby's arms that suggest he had been tied up for some time, and the medical examiner's report which found that Leiby had been drugged before he was smothered to death. Police found Leiby's severed feet in Aron’s refrigerator, and a set of bloody carving knives in his kitchen. There is also Aron's extensive written (and videotaped) confession, which he made immediately after being apprehended by police.
The insular Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park is still reeling from the murder: "Everybody says 'we're not going to talk about it', but how can you not talk about it? How can you not talk about a tragedy that has affected every single family," Assemblyman Dov Hikind told WCBS. With the help of neighbors, Leiby's parents have moved out of the two-bedroom apartment where they had lived with eight people and sat Shiva for Leiby. Friends are still keeping Leiby's mother from knowing all the details about her son's horrific murder.