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Judge: Monsey Hanukkah stabbing suspect not fit to stand trial

Grafton Thomas ordered 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

Ramapo police officers escort Grafton Thomas from Ramapo Town Hall to a police vehicle, December 29, 2019, in Ramapo, New York. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)
Illustrative: Ramapo police officers escort Grafton Thomas from Ramapo Town Hall to a police vehicle, December 29, 2019, in Ramapo, New York. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)

NEW YORK — 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 December 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’s trial for federal hate crimes. He has 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.

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