GOSHEN – Attorney Michael Sussman wants a formal mental health evaluation of Grafton Thomas, the man accused of the machete attack on a Hanukkah ceremony at a rabbi’s home in Monsey.
Sussman said on Thursday that Thomas has a history of mental illness and has been assessed as a paranoid schizophrenic and has no anti-Semitic beliefs. “I wrote to the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and asked that office to agree to a 30-day in-patient evaluation of Grafton so that we could begin to understand the psychological circumstances which were obvious to me from speaking with him for 35 minutes,” he said.
Sussman and Thomas’ mother went to a cabin in Wurtsboro that Thomas had lived in over a year ago and found writings, books and unopened psychotropic medications that he was supposed to take, but nothing to point to anti-Semitic thoughts.
Forensic investigator Michael Archer has gone over more than 100 pages of Thomas’ writings. “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any anti-Semitism in those writings. There is no evidence of any hatred toward anybody or anything in those writings. Those are ramblings of a madman,” he said. “Nothing suggests hate, anti-Semitism or terrorism.”
Sussman said Thomas has been collecting Social Security disability benefits because of his diagnosis.
Thomas’ mother Kim Kennedy, a registered nurse, said her son grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
Thomas faces both federal and state charges and Sussman said the case will be presented to a Rockland County grand jury on Friday.
The suspect had been living with his mother in Greenwood Lake since he moved from Wurtsboro and was arrested for allegedly menacing a police officer, but those charges were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and after six months, they were dismissed.
Other issues discussed during a telephone news conference conducted by Sussman, Mrs. Kennedy, and the attorney’s investigators, included that Thomas had been in a Utah psychiatric facility twice in the past, was assessed as a paranoid schizophrenic at Orange Regional Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill and that he joined the Marines the year after graduating from high school, but was discharged after he broke his wrist and was found with a small amount of marijuana.