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Vagrant in brutal 2019 Hanukkah machete attack still unfit for trial — but DA’s office determined to prosecute

A deranged vagrant accused of a brutal machete attack on Hasidic Jews at a Hanukkah party in 2019 remains unfit to stand trial, an upstate judge has ruled. But determined prosecutors have vowed to throw the book at him if he is allowed to face a jury.

Rockland County Judge Kevin Russo last week ordered Grafton Thomas, who is charged with murder in the Dec. 28, 2019, Ramapo attack, to be held in a psychiatric hospital as an “incompetent person” for at least another two years. signed.

The attack left 72-year-old Josef Neumann with severe head injuries and a coma, where he died three months later.

Thomas, 39, faces 14 charges in the attack, including six counts of assault and attempted murder.

Grafton Thomas, 39, is charged with murder, attempted murder and assault in connection with the 2019 Hanukkah machete attack. AFP (via Getty Images)
Josef Neumann, 72, was put into a coma after the 2019 Hanukkah machete attack and died three months later. AP

“The Rockland District Attorney's Office is committed to seeking justice on behalf of Joseph Newman and the others injured in this horrific attack,” Scott Waters, a spokesman for Rockland District Attorney Thomas Walsh, said in a statement Monday. I am committed to receiving the same.” “If the defendant is found to be competent, authorities will proceed with prosecution.”

According to President Russo's order, Thomas will remain incarcerated at the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton for at least two more years while the matter is reconsidered.

Mr. Russo also signed a commitment order against Mr. Thomas in January 2022 after Mr. Thomas was determined to be incompetent.

Police say Thomas burst into the Rockland County home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg during a Hanukkah celebration and stabbed five Jewish men to death, ranging from ages 2 months to 80 years old. It is said that there were people up to the age of 10.

Grafton Thomas, 39, was deemed unfit to stand trial again for the 2019 machete attack on Hasidic Jews. Rockland County Correctional Center/Handout/EPA-EFE/REX
A menorah on the last night of Hanukkah near the site of a 2019 attack on Hasidic Jews in Rockland County. Daniel William McKnight

One of the men at the party, Josef Gluck, was able to fend off the attack using a marble table.

Before the attack, Thomas had more than 20 encounters with police at Greenwood Lake, where he lived with his mother about 35 miles northwest of Mondsee, according to police records.

He has been arrested twice by Greenwood Lake police, once in 2002 for smoking marijuana and again in 2009 for assaulting a man.

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