BOSTON – Khaled Awad, who allegedly stabbed a Hasidic rabbi nine times on Thursday, was ordered to remain in jail and denied bail at his arraignment on Friday, July 2, at the Brighton Division of Boston Municipal Court.
Awad, 24, formerly of Egypt and now of Brighton, pleaded not guilty to counts of assault and battery. At the request of Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Margaret Hegarty, Judge Myong Joun ordered Awad held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on July 8. The judge also granted a protective order Hegarty had requested.
Awad’s mental competency was raised during the hearing in relation to several arrests while he was living in Florida. Hegarty asked Awad be held until a dangerousness hearing next week.
“As you can hear and see,” said Hegarty after reading the facts of the July 1 knife and gun attack on Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside the Shaloh House, “it was a harrowing act in broad daylight here in our neighborhood in this community where a member of our community was terrorized, chased and stabbed numerous times, right under our very nose, right here.”
Hegarty said the rabbi was receiving good care in the hospital and was able to give information to detectives to help the investigation.
“And, I should note that the investigation in fact continues, especially along the lines of civil rights matters that may or may not have come up during the interaction between these two parties.”
Awad has not been charged with a hate crime, but is facing charges of assault and battery with a knife and a gun and kicking a police officer during his arrest.
Hegarty argued for Awad to be held due to the brazen nature of the attack – he allegedly tried to kidnap Noginski in front of a Jewish day school, which was placed under lockdown. The attack also took place in the vicinity of a park and other public buildings, neighborhoods and commercial areas in Brighton Center.
“This was a horrifying disruption to say the least,” Hegarty said, “of the life that this neighborhood usually enjoys in terms of feeling safety and security. And it truly came out of nowhere and the rabbi suffered terribly at the hand of this defendant.
“That, your honor, is about as dangerous as it gets,” Hegarty added. “An out-of-the blue attack that included shades of trying to be forced into a vehicle by the defendant, but then took the turn towards a brutal stabbing.”
Awad has no record in Massachusetts, the prosecutor said, but there were records of a criminal history in Florida. Charges in Florida included instances of battery theft and “a number of brushes with Florida authorities.”
Boston police contacted authorities in Florida, Hegarty said, and learned there were a couple of incidents in November 2020 in which the defendant was arrested.
“Those cases were dropped as it was determined that the defendant was incompetent at the time,” Hegarty said.
Awad was sent to a mental health facility in Florida. Boston police also learned from Florida authorities that Awad had been barred from his apartment complex in February 2021 and served a protection order in October 15, 2020 by the management of his former residence, “and that includes his inability to return to that property where he had been causing difficulty and disruption, and again, trespassing on a regular basis.”
Hegarty said these factors show Awad to be a danger to the community and the victim.
“The degree of dangerousness here, I suggest, is only reduced by holding the defendant until this case is further adjudicated,” said Hegarty. She asked that Awad be held under Section 58A, the state’s dangerousness statute.
Rick Dyer, Awad’s attorney, asked the court not to rush to judgement and said his client is not guilty until proven so beyond a reasonable doubt. “There is no indication in the police report nor in the complaint that this is a crime of bias or hate,” Dyer said, asking for bail, while another defense attorney is appointed.
Judge Joun asked Dr. Helene Presskreischer, a psychologist, if she had seen Awad’s medical record and she said the defendant “was able to speak very coherently with me today.”
A native of Egypt, Awad has resided in the U.S. for about four years and is fluent in English, she said.
The psychologist said Awad told her his competency had been raised in the past in Florida, that he had been sent to a psychiatric hospital and that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder while there. He was placed on medications, but has not been taking any since moving to Massachusetts about four months ago. She said she did not see signs of mental illness.
“He was logical and coherent; there was no sign of psychotic thinking or thought disorder. He didn’t appear to be particularly manic or looking depressed. So, there was nothing in terms of his competency that would interfere mental health-wise,” Presskreischer said. Awad also had a good grasp of the legal system and was interested in working with his lawyer to get favorable disposition of his case, she said.
“He said although he was found incompetent in the past, he did not feel it was an issue today,” she said. She didn’t recommend further evaluation. But, if he’s not able to get further treatment, his condition could deteriorate, she added. If that happened, he could be referred back to the court clinic for another assessment.
Awad’s attorney asked, given the serious of the charges, his history of incompetency and lack of medication, Awad should be referred for further evaluation, something the judge denied. Judge Joun allowed the commonwealth’s motion for Awad to be held without bail pending the dangerousness hearing on July 8.