The man accused of stabbing at least five people in a machete rampage at the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration could face a death penalty trial if one of his alleged victims, still in a coma, dies, a judge said on Monday.
Grafton Thomas, 37, appeared in a White Plains, New York, court where he pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes for the Dec. 28 stabbing of members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, bringing the number of federal charges he faces to 10.
Each count carries a maximum prison term of life.
He could need a capital defense team if any of the victims die, U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel said. One of those attacked, a 72-year-old man who suffered devastating machete blows to his head, arm and neck, is comatose and may not recover, according to his family.