Arson, attempted murder suspect appears in court with big smile

Kimberly Dole
June 17, 2019 - 7:49 am

CBS 2

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The Pennsylvania man accused of torching a rabbi’s Brooklyn home appeared in court with a big smile on his face Sunday night.

Matthew Karelefsky, 41, was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court, issued a full order of protection for Rabbi Jonathan Max and charged for attempted murder and arson.

When asked by the judge if he understood the terms and had any questions, Karelefsky answered “Yes, your honor” and then “No, your honor.”

Ezra Max, the son of the rabbi whose home was destroyed by fire Friday says "he doesn’t know why the suspect, Matthew Karelefsky, was intent on killing his father but it seems he needs psychiatric help."


Karelefsky was found in Manhattan with a bag full of lighter fluid an axe and knives and prosecutors presented evidence against him, including video that shows the suspect at Rabbi Max’s home on the morning of the fire.

Prosecutors confirmed Karelefsky’s “Never let go of the HATRED and KILL Rabbi Max YEMACH SHMO” tattoo, in addition to online threats that he allegedly made against Rabbi Max.

“The defendant faces a significant jail sentence if found guilty on attempted murder in the second degree and arson in the second degree,” Assistant District Attorney Tziyonah Langsam said, before asking that Karelefsky be remanded.


Karelefsky is scheduled to be back in court on June 21.

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