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NEW YORK (PIX11)— The murder of Leiby Kletzky horrified New York, now word of Levi Aron's defense is sending shock waves into the community as well -- and outrage is pouring forth. His attorney claimed Wednesday that Aron is the genetic victim of Orthodox Jewish Community inbreeding.
"We have gotten death threats, yes," says Howard Greenburg from his downtown Brooklyn office. Greenburg doesn't shrink from controversy, first taking on one of the more polarizing murder cases by defending 35-year-old Levi Aron, accused of murdering and dismembering 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky while walking home alone from day camp last July. Now his choice of defense strategies have some in the community sounding off.
"Greenburg is a self-hating Jew," says Dov Hikind, who's stayed in close contact with the Kletzky family, and many others in the ultra-Orthodox community here.
But Greenburg says he'll take the heat. "It's a simple case. Either he's crazy or evil. We intend to prove he's crazy."
Greenburg, who is defending Aron for free, say he's not just garden-variety crazy but is taking a shotgun approach, saying he has three factors at play.
"It's a perfect storm when you combine a traumatic brain injury that he got from a bicycle fall at 10 and his family history with schizophrenia. His sister committed suicide; schizophrenia can bring on random acts of violence," insists Greenburg.
The most controversial part of Aron's defense? That he is inbred.
Greenburg says the family has given initial indications of potential genetic abnormalities due to close intermarriage. "Whether or not his biologic antecedents are blood relatives. We intend on investigating this down to the ground," is how Greenburg explains it.
It's a claim that is outrageously offensive to some, including Jewish leader Dov Hikind, who speaks for a larger orthodox population in Brooklyn, many of whom prefer to marry only those within their own tightly-knit circle.
Hikind says this defense is simply smoke and mirrors for where the real attention in the case should be focused. "it's an attempt to make us forget the tragedy. Let's concentrate on the inbreeding, the insanity. No. Let's concentrate on the horror committed by Levi Aron," reminds Hikind.
Aron thus far has been found mentally competent to stand trial. He is next expected in court in March, after the judge has time to consider which experts will be allowed to testify for the prosecution and defense. The trial itself is not expected to start for another year.