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An Illinois Resident Charged with Hate Crime for Stabbing Muslim Boy and Attacking His Mother 2024-04-20 12:48:41

A man accused of murder, attempted murder, and a hate crime in an attack on an American of Palestinian descent and her young son did not plead guilty on Monday after a grand jury in the state of Illinois brought charges against him.

71-year-old Joseph Chuba faces charges of fatally stabbing 6-year-old Vadea Al-Fayoumi and injuring Hanan Shahin on October 14. Authorities stated that the victims were targeted because of their Muslim faith and in response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Shahin told the police that Chuba, her landlord in Plainfield, Will County, became upset about the war and attacked them after she asked him to "pray for peace."

Chuba appeared in court on Monday in a red prison jumpsuit, socks, and yellow rubber slippers.

His attorney, George Leonard, asserted his innocence after the judge read the eight-count indictment. Chuba stood before the judge in a courtroom in Joliet, 50 miles southwest of Chicago, with his hands folded behind his back, not speaking while facing the bench.

32-year-old Shahin is recovering from multiple stab wounds. Hundreds of people attended her son's funeral on October 16, remembering him as an energetic boy who loved to play games. He had recently celebrated his birthday.

The boy's father and other family members were present at the hearing but declined to speak with reporters.

In the murder charge against Chuba, the boy's death is described as a result of "exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior." The attack on the family, which renewed concerns about anti-Muslim discrimination in the large and established Palestinian community in Chicago, drew condemnation from the White House.

Judge David Carlson ruled that Chuba would remain in custody pending a court hearing on January 8.

Assistant Will County State's Attorney Michael Fitzgerald urged that Chuba be held in custody, citing him as a danger to Shahin and others.

"We also believe that he presents a danger to the safety of the community," he said.

Chuba's lawyers disagreed, citing his age and the fact that he is a veteran with no criminal record.

Leonard and Fitzgerald declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.

Shahin called on the public to "pray for peace" and said that her son was her best friend in a statement released last week through the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The attack occurred against a backdrop of rising hostility toward Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States following Hamas' attacks on Israel.

 

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