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NYC man indicted on murder charge in child killing

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NEW YORK » A man was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on murder and kidnapping charges in the killing and dismemberment of an 8-year-old boy who was abducted off a Brooklyn street last week.

Levi Aron was indicted on a total of eight counts. Prosecutors allege he lured Leiby Kletzky to his home after the little boy got lost while walking home from a day camp and asked him for help.

Detectives later found the boy’s severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in Aron’s freezer, as well as a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. The rest of the boy’s body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin.

The medical examiner said earlier Wednesday that Leiby was given a cocktail of painkillers and muscle relaxants before he was smothered.

Aron previously pleaded not guilty after he was arrested on murder and kidnapping charges. His attorney, Pierre Bazile, declined to comment on the medical examiner’s findings and has asked the public to let the judicial process take its course.

Bazile said Aron suffers from hallucinations and has been under a suicide watch. He is currently at Bellevue Hospital, where he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said they were still investigating whether there were any other incidents in Aron’s past.

Chief police spokesman Paul Browne said Wednesday that detectives believe the boy was killed sometime late in the afternoon or early in the evening on July 12 after Aron returned home from work — which means the boy was alive for about a day after he disappeared.

Investigators say it’s possible that, while Aron was at work that day, the boy was in his apartment all day of his own free will.

Leiby’s death was ruled a homicide. It was caused by intoxication from the combined effects of cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant; quetiapine, an antipsychotic; and the pain medications hydrocodone and acetaminophen, followed by smothering. Prescription drugs in Aron’s name were found at the apartment.

The medical examiner’s office dated the report July 13, which is when they found the body, not necessarily when they believed the killing to have occurred.

Police and prosecutors said Aron, a clerk at a hardware supply store, has confessed to suffocating the boy with a bath towel, but they were continuing to work on verifying his horrific and bizarre explanation for the boy’s death.

Video cameras captured the fateful July 11 encounter between Aron and Kletzky on a Brooklyn street as Leiby’s mother waited anxiously just a few blocks away, investigators said.

Leiby was Hasidic, an ultra-Orthodox version of Judaism, and lived in Borough Park, a somewhat insular and safe neighborhood and home to one of the world’s largest communities of Orthodox Jews outside Israel. Aron, who lived nearby, was Orthodox but not Hasidic.

Police said that Aron told investigators that, later that day, he brought the child to a wedding about 35 miles from Brooklyn and spent several hours there. Other wedding guests confirmed Aron was there but didn’t see the boy.

"Detectives now have reason to believe beyond Aron’s confession that Leiby was at the wedding, but not necessarily inside the venue," Browne said Wednesday.

Police believe Aron left work shortly before 5 p.m. and killed Leiby after being spooked by a massive search for the boy.

"When I saw the fliers, I panicked and was afraid," Aron said, according to police.

Investigators also have said Leiby may have been tied up and tried to fight back in the moments before he was killed. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said Aron had scratches on his arms, wrists and elsewhere. There also were marks on the boy’s remains that could have been caused by restraints, the commissioner added.

The medical examiner does not comment on any injuries to a body that were not involved in causing death.

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