Monsey stabbing suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder

Grafton Thomas pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges earlier this week.

Elad Benari ,

Monsey stabbing suspect Grafton Thomas
Monsey stabbing suspect Grafton Thomas

The man charged in the stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey that left five people wounded, one critically, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges on Thursday, The Associated Press reports.

Grafton Thomas appeared in Rockland County Court. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges.

His lawyer, Michael Sussman, argues that Thomas suffers from mental illness and is not responsible for his actions.

Federal prosecutors say Thomas targeted congregants celebrating the seventh night of Hanukkah at the Monsey home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg on December 28 because of their Jewish faith.

Celebrants were forced to defend themselves by throwing furniture, and one of the injured, 72-year-old Josef Neumann who was hit in the head, remains in critical condition.

In Monday’s hearing, one of the prosecutors said that if Neumann dies of his wounds, Thomas could face the death penalty.

Prosecutor Dominic Crispino said in court on Thursday that Sussman should resign from the case because he videotaped evidence being taken out of Thomas' cabin and therefore became a witness, the Journal News reported.

Sussman said he would not be resigning. Judge Kevin Russo said he would rule on the matter when the prosecutor puts his request in writing.

Sussman also said he wants to visit Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg's property in Monsey so he can get a sense of what Thomas was experiencing at the scene. Crispino argued against that; the judge said he would consider the request, according to AP.