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Accused child killer found fit to stand trial in New York

Murder suspect Levi Aron is escorted out of a New York Police Department precinct in Brooklyn
Murder suspect Levi Aron is escorted out of a New York Police Department precinct in Brooklyn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Levi Aron, accused of butchering an 8-year-old boy on his first walk home alone from an Orthodox Jewish day camp, is competent to stand trial, according to a court evaluation released on Thursday.

That means Aron is able to participate in his own defense and understands he is charged with kidnapping, suffocating and dismembering Leiby Kletzky, his defense lawyers said outside state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

But Aron, 35, still faces "months" of psychiatric evaluations to determine if he can claim he was insane at the time of the killing, his attorneys told reporters following the hearing before Justice Neil Firetog.

"We're glad he's been found competent but even we can't proceed until the psychiatric evaluation is done," said attorney Jennifer McCann.

Aron was arrested on July 13 after a search by police and members of the local Orthodox community led to his apartment, where parts of Kletzky's dismembered body were found in the freezer, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

He has been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping. If convicted, Aron faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail. He is currently receiving psychiatric treatment at Bellevue Hospital Center, McCann said.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said on Thursday that Aron will be brought to trial and "there are absolutely no circumstances which would lead me to accept a plea bargain."

Pierre Bazile, also an attorney for Aron, said the defense team was still weighing a possible plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)

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