The murder was barbaric and insane, but the man who told police he did it is sane enough to stand trial. According to psychological tests, Levi Aron is competent to face the first degree murder charges against him. That prompted his attorney Pierre Bazile to enter a "not guilty" plea for him in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
His hands and legs shackled, Aron said nothing during the brief court appearance. His head bowed, eyes focused nowhere, Aron listened as his lawyers argued that his ability to stand trial is not a judgment of his mental condition.
"It is not a rendering on sanity or insanity," said attorney Jennifer McCann. "It is only on competency."
According to police, Aron has confessed to kidnapping, killing and dismembering 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky last month after the boy became lost while walking home from day camp for the first time.
His handwritten confession, now made public, includes a statement to police after his arrest in which he declared, "I'm famous." He provided gruesome details of the murder. Police said Aron claimed he panicked after learning there was a massive search underway for the boy. In the confession, he wrote, "I went for a towel to smother him. He fought back a little but eventually he stopped breathing."
Angry members of the Orthodox Brooklyn community glared at the mute suspect in the courtroom and were enraged afterwards over how attorney Jennifer McCann spoke of Aron's right to a fair trial.
"This case is no different than a DWI and traffic ticket or other murder cases. They're defendants. They have rights too and we're here to protect them," she declared.
The lawyers said they will call in their own psychological experts before they decide whether an insanity defense is viable. And they may call for the trial to be held outside of Brooklyn.
Attorney Bazile contended, "He may not get a fair trial in Brooklyn because the community is riled, so stirred up so passionately against the defendant, it may not be possible."
Little Leiby's parents did not attend the court appearance by Aron. They are still being shielded from details of their son's murder.
Aron is due back in court October 14th.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun