NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A Long Island man accused of gouging out his grandmother's eyes and blinding her during a dispute over money has killed himself.
Authorities told Newsday that a guard at the Suffolk County Jail in Yaphank found 30-year-old Michael Grief hanging in his cell early Friday morning.
Grief was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Michael Sharkey, the chief deputy sheriff at the jail, says Grief was not on suicide watch. He says jail officials will conduct an investigation.
Grief had pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on assault charges Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Grief gouged out his grandmother's eyes with his fingers outside their Sayville home last month in a fit of rage over the use of her debit card.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. on Feb. 19, Grief became engaged in an argument with his grandmother over his use of her debit card, which he had allegedly used to overdraw her account by $1,000. His grandmother became fearful and left the house to seek help from a neighbor.
Grief followed her, accosted her outside of the neighbor’s house and gouged her eyes with his fingers. The force of the assault caused the globes of her eyes to rupture.
The neighbors called police.
"When the defendant was talking to police and was told he had gouged his grandmother’s eyes out, he was very dismissive," District Attorney Timothy Sini said. "He said, 'so?,' shrugged his shoulders, and appeared to be apathetic toward the situation."
The victim was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital where she underwent surgery for approximately eight hours in an attempt to save her vision. She was given a less than 1 percent chance to regain any vision, according to the hospital.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.