The Asbury Park Press reports: A 38-year-old Lakewood man accused of attempted murder in a baseball-bat attack on a rabbi has been deemed competent to stand trial. Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson last week ruled that Lee Tucker of Ventura Drive is mentally fit to stand trial on the attempted murder charge and another charge of possessing a weapon. Tucker is accused of severely beating Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz in Lakewood on Oct. 9, 2007. Moskowitz, then 53 and a third-grade teacher at Lakewood Cheder School, was attacked while walking to synagogue to pray.Tucker’s attorneys, Glenn Kassman and Kevin Young, sought to have their client declared incompetent to stand trial. At a hearing on May 14, they presented testimony from a psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Greenfield, who talked about Tucker’s history of psychiatric commitments dating to 1996 for serious mental disorders that include schizophrenia.
However, Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Michael Weatherstone called another psychiatrist, Dr. Timothy Michals, as his expert witness. Michals testified that Tucker is competent and that he faked mental illness during an exam.
Hodgson issued his ruling Thursday.
Young said at issue was whether Tucker is mentally competent to assist in his defense, and that Hodgson agreed with the state’s expert who said that he is.
Young said the defense team may now pursue an insanity defense for Tucker and are seeking to have him re-evaluated. For that defense to succeed, the defense attorneys would have to prove that Tucker was insane when the crimes were committed.
Hodgson scheduled a conference in the case for July 6. Tucker was arrested and charged on Oct. 24, 2007, a day after he was released from a stay at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow.
The assault on the rabbi received widespread attention, including a news conference to announce a $25,000 reward for information posted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Vaad, Lakewoods’ council of Jewish Orthodox leaders.