The suspect accused of the Dec. 28 machete attack at a home and prayer hall known as Rabbi Rottenberg’s Shul in Monsey, N.Y., injuring five of the 100 or so celebrants at a Hanukkah candle-lighting party and leading to the death of 72-year-old Yosef Neumann, is unfit for federal trial, a judge ruled on Monday.
Grafton Thomas, 37, was previously indicted by a federal grand jury and pleaded not guilty to five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill, a federal hate crime.
Judge Cathy Seibel said that “the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to assist properly in his defense.”
She ordered Thomas to be hospitalized for up to four months, after which his status will be re-evaluated.
Monday’s ruling does not apply to the state charges Thomas also faces.
Reportedly, Thomas could face an upgraded state murder charge due to Neumann’s death.
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