The answers to the judge's questions came quietly and haltingly, and absent any emotion that would suggest remorse for a crime that had horrified a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.
Yes, Levi Aron said, he had taken an 8-year-old stranger off the street in the summer of 2011. Yes, he had drugged, bound and smothered the boy. Yes, he had carved up the corpse.
And how did he get rid of the body parts? "In a suitcase," the onetime hardware store clerk said, again barely above a whisper and without elaboration.
Aron, 36, made his monotonic admissions Thursday before pleading guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping — part of deal intended to put him behind bars for most or all of the rest of his life and to spare the family of Leiby Kletzky the strain of a trial.
"There is no way one can comprehend or understand the pain of losing a child," the boy's father, Nachman Kletzky wrote in a statement distributed to the press. But he added that the plea gave the family "some partial closure on one aspect of this nightmare."
Aron had previously pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and, if convicted, would have faced life without parole. The arrangement means he could technically qualify for parole, but only after he serves a minimum of 40 years behind bars.