Levi Aron, who confessed to killing 8-year old Leiby Kletzky and then pleaded not guilty to murder charges, has been found fit to stand trial.
"He has been found by the evaluators to be competent to stand trial and fit to proceed," The Wall Street Journal reports Pierre Bazile, one of Aron's attorneys, saying after the court appearance Thursday.
But a defense attorney offered a reminder that a competency ruling does not preclude the possibility that Levi could found not guilty by reason of insanity.
"Fitness to proceed only includes that he understands the nature and charges against him, that is he able to understand he's being criminally prosecuted, he knows what those charges are, and is able to participate in his own defense. It is not a rendering on sanity or insanity, it is only on competency," said Defense Attorney Jennifer McCann.
Aron's defense lawyers have not asked for bail. He has been under psychiatric care at New York's Bellevue Hospital since being charged with the kidnapping and murdering the boy. His attorneys requested that he remain in the hospital, but the judge remanded him to jail and left the decision about where he should be placed to jail officials.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Aron's attorneys are considering asking for the trial to be moved to another jurisdiction due to the possibility that the jury pool has been tainted by intense media coverage of the case.
Leiby Kletzky was given permission from his parents for the very first time to walk part of the way home from Boyan Day Camp on 44th Street and 12th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn on Monday, July 11. Leiby and his parents had practiced the route the day before, and had a prearranged meeting point a short distance from the camp.
At some point during the walk, Leiby went off course, and may have asked Aron for directions. Surveillance video shows the boy conversing with Aron, who was seen leaving a dentist's office.
Aron made no attempt to deny his involvement with Leiby's death, pointing police in the direction of the boy's remains when they first apprehended him at his apartment.
Aron provided a detailed confession after being taken to police headquarters. Aron indicated that he did not initially intend to kill the boy, claiming that he "panicked" after realizing the massive scale of the search effort for him.
The medical examiner found anti-psychotics, painkillers, and muscle relaxers in Leiby's system. Police believe that the medication was prescribed to Aron and that he may have drugged a sandwich he gave the boy.
The discovery of drugs in Leiby's system indicate that the killing was premeditated.
Aron's defense attorneys have expressed concern for the mental health of their client, and requested he be placed on suicide watch.
"He has indicated to me that he hears voices and has had some hallucinations," defense attorney Bazile said at his client's July 14 arraignment.
In a statement excerpted by the Wall Street Journal, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said he would move to bring the case to trial quickly. "I want to reaffirm that this case will go to trial and that there are absolutely no circumstances which would lead me to accept a plea bargain," Hynes said.