BOSTON – Khaled Awad, the 24-year-old man accused of stabbing Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside the Shaloh House Jewish Day School in Brighton on July 1, pleaded not guilty in Suffolk Superior Court on Aug. 26, after a grand jury returned indictments against him in connection with the bloody attack, which has been called a hate crime.
“Not guilty on all of these,” Awad said during his arraignment, which was carried live on Zoom as he appeared before Superior Court Judge Diane Freniere in a Boston courtroom.
The prosecutor said at the time of the attack, Noginsky was identifiable as a Hasidic Jew and was in front of a school with a large menorah out front. Noginski was stabbed nine times, suffering serious wounds to his upper left chest near his heart and deep cuts to his left arm.
Awad, who was being evaluated for his competency to stand trial at Bridgewater State Hospital, was ordered held without bail at the Suffolk County South Bay House of Correction until a dangerousness hearing on Sept. 28.
Awad’s attorney, Janice Bassil, did not challenge the detention of the former college student from Egypt, but she described him as an “ill individual,” having been found incompetent to stand trial in a theft case in Florida, where he had previously been sent to a psychiatric facility. She told the court Awad “has delusions.”
In an affidavit Bassil filed in support of an ex parte motion for funds to hire a medical expert, she said Awad “rocked back and forth in his chair. He could not sustain eye contact.”
The affidavit stated “he was preliminarily diagnosed with schizophrenia and/or schizoaffective disorder.” Awad is on medication that “seems to stabilize him,” Bassil said, but there were also issues regarding “a severe physical reaction to it” that required him to be hospitalized. She said it was critical Awad be held at South Bay so that she and others involved in his case, with whom he has trust, can work with him more easily.
With a formal reading of the nine charges waived, Awad could be heard pleading “not guilty” to nine charges, including two hate crime charges: armed assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (a knife), assault by means of a dangerous weapon (a gun), assault and battery for the pur- pose of intimidation resulting in bodily injury, violating an individual’s Constitutional rights, two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds.
Awad was arrested by Boston police shortly after the attack at 1:20 p.m. on July 1, and has been in custody since his arrest. He was previously arraigned in Brighton District Court, before a Suffolk County grand jury returned indictments against him, according to a press release from Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office.
“Every person deserves to live without fear as their full authentic selves,” Rollins said in a press release. “It is imperative that we denounce hatred and bigotry in any form and respond clearly and firmly when we encounter it. Hate has no place in Suffolk County. We will hold violent offenders accountable when they harm.”
Rollins noted the attack nearly killed Rabbi Noginski, “but it also traumatized the entire Jewish community and deeply impacted the people of Brighton,” she said.
The arraignment moved the criminal case against Awad to Suffolk Superior Court, “which is the appropriate court of jurisdiction to address the serious felony offenses alleged in this case,” the DA said. With the grand jury indictments, the case was transferred to Superior Court as district courts only have the power to deal with misdemeanors and some felonies with a maximum sentence of 2½ years in jail, while major felonies are prosecuted in Superior Court where judges can impose time in state prison, with sentences of up to life for serious offenses.
Assistant District Attorney Ursula Knight, chief of Rollins’ High Risk Victims Unit, which prosecutes bias-motivated crimes, read out the description of the case during the Aug. 26 hearing.
Prosecutors allege security camera footage captured Awad approaching Noginski on the front steps of the Shaloh House where a children’s camp was underway.
Awad allegedly drew what appeared to be a gun and demanded and gestured at what the rabbi thought was a demand for keys to the school van. When Noginsky attempted to hand over the keys, the defendant rejected them and motioned for him to get in the van to isolate him.
Prosecutors say Awad put away the gun and brandished a knife. The rabbi fled to a nearby park and the defendant “chased after him and ultimately gained on him,” Knight said.
The rabbi, a native of the former Soviet Union who also lived in Israel, assumed a defensive posture, and was stabbed in his left arm and body “as he fought to defend himself.” He suffered nine stab wounds. In the meantime, eyewitnesses called 911 and Boston police arrived in minutes. The defendant was located in a nearby alleyway and, trapped by a fence and police cruisers, brandished a gun at officers, who repeatedly ordered him to drop his gun and get to his knees. Initially, the defendant did not heed their orders, but Knight said the officers kept their composure and the defendant dropped his weapon, and after a struggle, he was taken into custody.
Boston police detectives from District D-14, the Boston Police Department’s Civil Rights Unit and the FBI investigated the attack. They found security camera video and police body camera footage had captured the crime and what happened after “almost in its entirety.”
In addition, a witness captured cell phone video of Awad, who lived in the neighborhood of the Shaloh House, acting suspiciously near the school a day before the attack. Prosecutors said those who knew Awad told investigators that indicated Awad “held a hatred of Jewish individuals,” providing evidence to support hate crime charges.