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Hanukkah stabbing suspect indicted in Monsey attack

Grafton Thomas is led from Ramapo Town Hall in Ramapo, N.Y. following his arraignment Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. Thomas was charged in the stabbings of multiple people as they gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi's home in Monsey, an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. (Seth Harrison/The Journal News via AP)

The man who authorities say stabbed and slashed his way through a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City was indicted on state charges Friday as his lawyer and federal authorities quarreled over who gets custody of newly found evidence.

The indictment against Grafton Thomas was announced in a release from Rockland County District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II, who said Thomas was “charged with a violent and heinous crime.”

“This was an extremely brutal attack,” he said.

Walsh said Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, was indicted on six counts of second-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree assault, three counts of first-degree attempted assault and two counts of first-degree burglary. The charges carry a potential penalty of 25 years in prison.

Thomas, held on $5 million bail on the state charges, is detained without bail in a federal facility on federal hate crime charges. An arraignment date on the indictment was not immediately announced.

Meanwhile, a U.S. district judge Friday conducted a closed hearing in White Plains over efforts by federal prosecutors to gain control of evidence an attorney for Thomas took from a Wurtsboro residence where Thomas lived from 2016 to September 2018.

The attorney, Michael Sussman, said in court papers that his client’s mother told him on Wednesday that she told the FBI about her son’s prior residence on Sunday when they searched her home, where he had lived most recently.

The lawyer said he then went with the mother and several others to the Wurtsboro residence, where he found a disheveled three-room residence, including Thomas’ bedroom.

In the bedroom were numerous notebooks, used and unused, along with papers, five handwritten posters on the walls, two computers, a phone, some books and DVDs.

Sussman said he filmed and cataloged the materials, along with items in a bathroom and living room including “Paralegals for Dummies” and an anthology of “Negro Folklore.”

After informing state authorities and asking them to relay word of what he had found to federal investigators, Sussman was served by an FBI agent with a grand jury subpoena, the lawyer said.

He said he told a federal prosecutor that workers in his office were copying and inventorying the materials he had recovered from the Greenwood Lake and Wurtsboro residences and would provide copies of the materials by Monday, including 13 unopened anti-psychotic bottles prescribed for his client between 2016 and 2018.

But he said the prosecutor told him the government was justified in taking sole control of the materials.

Sussman said he should not be deprived of the evidence, especially while his client his described by authorities as a “domestic terrorist” and a “monster.”

“There is plain evidence that my client suffers from profound psychosis, diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia in available medical records,” he wrote.

He said the materials may be highly relevant to a psychiatric report being prepared by his retained expert.

After the closed hearing, Sussman and prosecutors declined to discuss it with reporters.

Associated Press