Lawyer Claims Client Firebombed Synagogues Because of Video Games, Mental Health Problems

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."

Source: MSNBC by way of Peshi006. Image Credit:

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  1. 0
    Hevach says:

    There's already some good trends going on that give hints.

    1. Drugs are coming back as a blame target. Not the traditional ones, though. Well, they do, but more notably homebrew and usually made up for the sake of news drugs like dissolved bath salts and jenkem.
    2. Sex. Teens having sex isn't new, or even increasing for that matter, but teens are becoming more knowledgeable about safe sex and just sex in general than many in their parents generation. This one also has a lot of made up for the news ones like rainbow parties.

    3. With religion in general and Christianity in particular having trouble in North America and Europe (and Catholicism even worse with their sweeping and unpopular changes) and especially losing young members, atheism and agnosticism and even simple non-practice are coming under more and more fire as the source of  societies ills. This looks to me a lot like a repeat of the 80's pagan/Satanic moral scare, just retargeted from small religions to nonreligion.

    Video games aren't quite done being blamed, but the blame is getting flimsier and quieter.

  2. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    …and before then: TV, movies, Punk music, Rock music, comic books, heck even BOOKS once. Love how the popular things gets the blame. Wonder what gets blamed next?

  3. 0
    BlindMaphisto says:

    Maybe he's trying to get his client off by proving that he is an incompetent lawyer. But if he successfully does that then he's not incompetent and his client can't get off on those ground. Where's Philosoraptur when you need him?

  4. 0
    Lisa Pham says:

    WT? Why do video games always get the blame when someone goes nutsoid?

    What did they blame all this stuff on before video games existed? I seriously don't remeber, it was too long ago.

  5. 0
    DorthLous says:

    At some point it was the shape of your cranium, the bad humors in your body or evil possession. Unless you were poor. At which point, it became "normal".

  6. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    I missed the "before video games existed" part when I made my first reply.

    Yeah, comics and music (rock and a few other styles).  Drugs, too.  Kind of depends what time period we're talking about when you say "before video games existed."

    Hell, go back far enough and the waltz took some blame for society's ills.  Check out this article I wrote for GamePolitics way back in '06 for more fun examples.

    Andrew Eisen

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