MINEOLA, N.Y. – A movie theater usher accused of repeatedly stabbing an 8-year-old boy playing video games at a restaurant arcade had been treated for a psychiatric disorder before the attack, his attorney said Friday in a preview of his defense strategy.
The attorney entered not guilty pleas to attempted murder, assault and weapon possession at 23-year-old Evan Sachs' arraignment. Nassau County Court Judge Jerald Carter said Sachs would remain in jail without bail.
The defendant, who appeared disheveled, only answered "yes" when the judge asked to confirm his identity. His mother burst into tears when he was led into the courtroom in handcuffs.
Defense attorney Eric Sachs, who is not related to the defendant, said his client's medication for an undisclosed mental ailment had been changed shortly before the Oct. 8 stabbing, although he did not say how that may have affected what happened. The attorney said Sachs continues to be treated with psychiatric drugs while in jail but declined to discuss his specific condition.
"He is extremely remorseful," the lawyer said, noting his client and his family are relieved the boy — who has not been identified by authorities — has apparently recovered from his injuries. A man who the defense attorney said was the victim's father sat in the back of the courtroom during the brief arraignment, but refused to speak with reporters.
The lawyer confirmed that he will pursue a psychiatric defense for his client.
Police said Sachs had been stalking potential young victims at Long Island shopping malls for weeks before the stabbing. He was arrested moments after plunging the 4-inch blade of a hunting knife five times into the boy's back at the popular family restaurant chain, Dave & Buster's, in Westbury.
The boy's parents were only several feet away, but Sachs apparently waited until they were momentarily distracted to begin assaulting him, police said.
Police said the suspect was carrying a typed note indicating his intent to kill a child; the victim apparently was chosen at random.
Sachs, the attorney, said he understands the note contained a reference that his client didn't want anyone else blamed for the stabbing, but disputed police contentions that he had been stalking potential victims for weeks.
"I haven't seen anything yet, to this day, that shows that he was trolling around, that this was a planned attack," Eric Sachs said, conceding: "He's not denying that this happened. He was caught there."
Evan Sachs, a Merrick resident, attended several colleges following his 2004 high school graduation but was working as a movie theater usher when he was arrested, his lawyer said.