Hanukkah stabbing suspect pleads not guilty to federal hate crime charges

Posted: Updated:

The man accused of stabbing five people during a Hanukkah celebration pleaded not guilty Monday to formal federal hate crime charges.

A federal grand jury indicted Grafton Thomas, 37, with five counts of willfully causing bodily injury to six victims because of the victims' religion and five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill.

All of the charges are related to the machete attack at a rabbi's home in Monsey during Hanukkah back on Dec. 28.

According to the allegations in the grand jury indictment, Thomas entered the home and stated "no one is leaving" before attacking the group with an 18-inch machete. Five people were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Grafton was later arrested in Harlem, and investigators say they found handwritten journals with anti-Semitic references.

Defense attorney Michael Sussman says he wants to determine if Thomas is competent to stand trial. He is awaiting a report from a psychiatrist before making the motion in court.

Sussman previously stated that Thomas has a long history of mental illness and was hearing voices the night of the attack.

On Monday, News 12 learned that Thomas told the judge he is now taking Prozac and Latuda. Sussman previously stated that he was off medication the night of the attack.

"As an officer of the court I feel that I have the responsibility to convey where I have doubts in understanding the comprehension that exist and from my communication with the gentleman I do have those doubts," says Sussman.

In court, News 12 learned Thomas could face the death penalty if one of the victims of the attack dies. Joseph Neuman remains in a coma, and his family says its unlikely he will regain consciousness.

Thomas also faces state charges. He is being held without bail on the federal charges.

The defense has until Jan. 27 to decide whether they will pursue a competency hearing.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."