Hanukkah attack suspect pleads not guilty to federal hate crimes


The man accused of stabbing at least five people during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's home pleaded "not guilty" to federal hate crimes Monday.

Thirty-seven year-old Grafton Thomas appeared in federal court in White Plains, New York, where he faced ten charges stemming from the night he allegedly burst into Hasidic rabbi Chaim Rottenberg's house in Monsey, New York, on a machete-wielding rampage.

In the courtroom, Grafton spoke briefly to the judge, confirming his name and age and saying that he has taken the drug Prozac.

Federal prosecutors have said Thomas targeted his victims because of their Jewish faith.

In a criminal complaint filed last month, prosecutors cited journals they seized from the suspect's home containing references to Adolf Hitler and Nazi culture.

Thomas also faces state charges for the attack, which his attorney, pointing to his client's long history of mental illness, has said was likely due to psychosis rather than bigotry.

Monsey is a largely ultra-orthodox community. The most severely injured in the December 28th attack was a 72-year-old man who suffered a skull fracture.

The violent rampage followed a recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in the greater New York City area, prompting law enforcement to bolster its presence in Jewish neighborhoods across the region.

Grafton faces a possible life sentence for each of the ten hate crime charges.