NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The lawyer for accused killer Levi Aron ignited controversy Wednesday with statements he made at a pre-trial hearing, suggesting inbreeding may have played a role in the gruesome crime.
Defense attorney Howard Greenberg said the actions of his client, who was charged in the murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky earlier this year, could, in part, be blamed on inbreeding.
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"Everybody knows when blood relations have offspring there can be genetic defects," Greenberg said, adding that "it's something that needs to be investigated."
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In an interview with CBS 2's Mark Morgan, Greenberg made similar comments about genetics and the role he says it could have played in Aron's mental state.
"Relatives getting together, doing the deed and having children. But you don't have to take it from me, ask any geneticist," he said.
Greenberg also went on to say that he will carefully go over Aron's family history, including "history of mental illness, the tramautic brain injury that he suffered, whether or not by virtue of familial relationships, there is a genetic defect that could manifest itself in mental illness."
After the comments, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind called Greenberg a "a sick, self-hating Jew who is out of his mind."
"He has caused unbelievable pain througout this community and far beyond this community -- by talking about inbreeding? He is out of his mind," Hikind told Morgan.
Prosecutors said Aron killed Kletzky back on July 11 and then dismembered his body. Authorities said Aron kidnapped Kletzky from his neighborhood in Borough Park and gave him a toxic mix of prescription and over-the-counter drugs before smothering him.
Aron then allegedly butchered the boy's body, hiding part of it in his freezer.
Police said Aron killed Kletzky because he panicked after seeing flyers of the 8-year-old around the neighborhood.
Greenberg's comments prompted outrage and a scathing statement from Hikind, who said the attorney "will stop at nothing in an effort to excuse the heinous crime his client perpetrated against innocent, eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky."
"It is outrageous that he has the audacity to insinuate that Levi Aron's crime is a result of inbreeding in the Jewish community. What an absolutely vile, disgusting, and wholly untrue remark," Hikind said.
Hikind went on to call Aron's lawyer a "disgrace to his profession" and said he should be "held in contempt by not only Judge Firetog, but by all of us."
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