Hanukkah stabbing suspect ruled unfit for trial

Hanukkah stabbing suspect ruled unfit for trial
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A judge ruled Monday that the suspect in the deadly December 28 Hanukkah celebration stabbing is mentally unfit for trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel, a George W. Bush appointee, ordered Grafton Thomas, who is accused of stabbing five people with a machete at a celebration in Monsey, N.Y., to undergo mental health treatment to assess his mental capabilities, ABC News reported

The order said Thomas, 37, “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,” according to NBC New York

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Seibel is requiring that Thomas be hospitalized at a mental facility for up to four months.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons will give the judge updates on Thomas after the first 30 days of hospitalization. 

Prosecutors have charged Thomas with hate crimes, attempted murder and murder after Josef Nuemann, one of his victims, died on March 29 from his injuries. Thomas allegedly forced his way into a Monsey home where Hasidic Jews were celebrating Hanukkah. 

Federal and state prosecutors argue that Thomas targeted the event because the attendees are Jewish and point to alleged handwritten journals with anti-Semitic comments and research of Hitler. 

Michael Sussman, Thomas’s lawyer, said his client has “severe psychiatric issues” and has been in psychiatric hospitals before. He argues that Thomas did not commit an act of domestic terrorism. 

“While others were making that claim and inflaming the public, I stated that Mr. Thomas had a long well-documented history of mental illness and that, tragically, this motivated his conduct in late December,” Sussman said in a statement. 

"The medical reports received by the courts being to explicate this history ... his actions on the night in question all bespeak to his very serious mental illness," he added. "In this situation, long-term treatment and hospitalization appear to be appropriate."