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.”
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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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