Lawyer: Man charged in Hanukkah attack incompetent for trial

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MONSEY, N.Y. (AP) — A psychiatrist has found Grafton Thomas incompetent to stand trial on federal hate crime charges stemming from a machete attack at a Hanukkah party that wounded five Hasidic Jews, Thomas's attorney said Monday.

Defense attorney Michael Sussman said in a statement that he has asked a federal judge to hold a competency evaluation for Thomas, who was arrested hours after a stabbing attack on Dec. 28 in Monsey, an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City.

The federal court has given the U.S. Attorney's Office two weeks to respond to the application for a competency evaluation, Sussman said. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment to the media on Monday.

Thomas has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in Rockland County. He pleaded not guilty to 10 hate-crime charges in federal court on Jan. 13. Thomas is being held without bail in federal custody.

Investigators found anti-Semitic writings in Thomas's journals and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sussman and Thomas' mother have said Thomas suffers from mental illness and was not responsible for his actions. Sussman has said Thomas has no history of violent acts or anti-Semitism.

One of the victims, 72-year-old Josef Neumann, remains in a coma with a fractured skull and other injuries.

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