April 1, 2020

Psychiatrist Says Monsey Stabbing Suspect Is Mentally Unfit for Trial

MONSEY, NY - DECEMBER 29: Ramapo police guard the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg on December 29, 2019 in Monsey, New York. Five people were injured in a knife attack during a Hanukkah party and a suspect, identified as Grafton E. Thomas, as was later arrested in Harlem. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

A psychiatrist concluded that Grafton Thomas, who is accused of stabbing five people at a Hanukkah party on Dec. 28 in Monsey, N.Y., is mentally ill and therefore not able to stand trial.

Michael Sussman, Thomas’ attorney, made the announcement on Jan. 27. Federal prosecutors have two weeks to respond.

Sussman has asserted since Thomas’ arrest the day after the stabbings, that his client has a history of mental illness. As an example, Sussman pointed to Thomas being arrested in September when his mother — with whom he lived at the time — called 911 in response to Thomas slicing a chicken with a knife. Thomas was arrested when an officer ordered him to put down the knife but he refused to do so. He was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was subsequently released, according to Patch.com.

Additionally, Sussman also has stated that Thomas told him that he has heard voices in his head.

Thomas’ family has similarly claimed in a statement to CNN that he is mentally ill and never has expressed any anti-Semitic beliefs.

“We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness for which … [for] Grafton has received episodic treatment before being released,” they said.

Federal prosecutors said on Dec. 30 that they discovered journals written by Thomas containing a swastika and references to Adolf Hitler and he searched for “Zionist temples” near him on his phone. Sussman has said that he found evidence supporting his client’s case in a vacant cabin that Thomas once inhabited. Prosecutors are demanding that Sussman hand over the evidence.

Thomas faces federal hate crime charges as well as charges of attempted murder. He pled not guilty to all charges.

One of the victims, 72-year-old Josef Neumann, currently is in a coma.