A man who was charged with killing, attempting to kill, and committing a hate crime against a Palestinian American woman and her young son after being indicted by an Illinois grand jury entered a not-guilty plea on Monday.
On October 14, Wadea Al-Fayoume, six, was tragically stabbed while Hanaan Shahin was wounded. The 71-year-old Joseph Czuba is charged with inflicting both injuries. The victims were targeted, according to the authorities, because they were Muslims and in response to the confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
Shahin reported to the police that after she had pushed her landlord in Plainfield, Will County, Czuba, to “pray for peace,” he became enraged over the conflict and attacked them.
Wearing a crimson jail uniform, stockings, and yellow rubber slippers, Czuba made an appearance in court on Monday.
After the court read the eight-count accusation, his lawyer, George Lenard, entered a not-guilty plea. Czuba stood in front of the judge at the Joliet court, located 50 miles (80 kilometres) southwest of Chicago, looking down at the podium with his hands clasped behind his back. He did not say anything.
32-year-old Shahin is recuperating from many stabbing wounds. On October 16, hundreds of people showed up for her son’s funeral. He was characterized as a lively youngster who loved to play video games. It was his birthday recently.
Other family members, including the boy’s father, were present at the hearing. They declined to speak with reporters.
The group Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by multiple countries and organizations, including the United States, the European Union, and Israel.
According to the murder charge in Czuba’s accusation, the boy’s death was brought on by “exceptionally brutal or heinous actions.” The White House has condemned the attack on the family, which reignited anti-Islamic sentiment in the well-established and sizable Palestinian community in the Chicago area.
Czuba will be in custody until his court appearance on January 8th, according to Judge David Carlson’s ruling.
Michael Fitzgerald, the assistant state’s attorney for Will County, contended that Czuba ought to stay behind bars since he was a menace to Shahin and other individuals.
He added, “We also think he poses a threat to the community’s safety.”
Czuba’s attorneys disagreed, citing not only his advanced age but also the fact that he is a veteran with no past criminal convictions.
Following the hearing, Lenard and Fitzgerald refused to speak with media.
Shahin said her son was her best friend and urged people to “pray for peace” in a statement released last week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Chicago chapter.
The attack occurs in the midst of growing animosity in the US against the Muslim and Jewish populations following Hamas’s attack on Israel.