The lawyer of a man accused of attempting to firebomb several synagogues in New Jersey is saying that his client suffers from mental illness and was unduly influenced by video games. The 19-year-old man, Anthony M. Graziano of Lodi, N.J., pled not guilty to first-degree attempted murder, bias intimidation and aggravated arson for two attacks on synagogues in the area. Graziano was in court today seeking a reduction in his $5 million bail. Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi cut the bail in half because Graziano is "destitute."
Graziano allegedly used a rigged aerosol can and a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a Rutherford synagogue on Jan. 11. One of the devices crashed through a residential window, burning a rabbi on the hand. His wife, five children, and mother- and father-in-law escaped the firebombing unscathed. Two attacks occurred in early January.
Graziano's attorney, Robert Kalisch said that his client suffered from mental health issues and spent most of his time playing violent video games on his Xbox 360. Kalisch didn't say which games Graziano played.
"This is someone who may (have been), with their own problems they have within their own head, taken over by these games that young people play now — lots of violence, lots of meanness," Kalisch told NBC station WNBC of New York.
Kalisch pointed to an incident in November in which Graziano called for an ambulance to come to his home because he was "feeling crazy or something." He was taken to hospital, where doctors recommended that he see a psychiatrist, according to the attorney.
"When you have emotional, psychiatric, psychological problems and you get involved in these games, the whole aura of it pervades, and it's not a game anymore. It becomes reality," Kalisch said.
"We have no doubt that the arson and the attempted murder in Rutherford were directly the result of Mr. Graziano's hatred for people of the Jewish faith," the DA’s Office said. "We believe that he did this because they were synagogues and specifically to intimidate and cause alarm or concern to people of the Jewish community."