Judge: Hanukkah stabbing suspect not fit to stand trial

April 20, 2020 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of stabbing five people with a machete at a suburban New York Hanukkah celebration is not mentally fit to stand trial, a judge ruled in a decision made public Monday.

Grafton Thomas, 37, is charged in an attack at a rabbi’s home on Dec. 28 that left five people wounded in Monsey, an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. The most critically injured victim, Josef Neumann, 72, died three months after the attack.

Judge Cathy Siebel wrote that Thomas should be committed to a treatment facility for no more than four months to determine if he can reach “the capacity to permit criminal proceedings to go forward against him.”


The ruling only applies to Thomas’ trial for federal hate crimes. He’s also been indicted on state charges including attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors have said Thomas had handwritten journals containing anti-Semitic comments and a swastika, and had researched Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews online.

Thomas’ attorney Michael Sussman has argued that his client was not motivated by anti-Semitism and has struggled with mental illness for years.