A Sayville man argued with his grandmother over his use of her debit card just before gouging her eyes, blinding her, Suffolk prosecutors said Wednesday in announcing his indictment.
Micheal Grief, 30, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday to first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault in connection with the Feb. 19 incident.
He was held pending payment of a bail of $1 million bond or $500,000 cash. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the first-degree assault charge.
Prosecutors said Grief’s 78-year-old grandmother blamed him for a $1,000 overdraft on her account, and during the argument at their home, the woman grew fearful of him and left to ask a neighbor for help.
But Grief followed her, authorities said, and outside the neighbor’s house, Grief used his fingers to gouge her eyes. Neighbors called police.
When Grief spoke to police and was told of the damage to his grandmother’s eyes, “He was very dismissive,” Suffolk District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said in a news release. “He said, ‘So?,’ shrugged his shoulders, and appeared to be apathetic toward the situation.”
Bryan Browns, spokesman for the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, which is representing Grief, said, “He’s presumed innocent at this point.” He declined to comment further until prosecutors turn over evidence.
The grandmother was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she underwent an 8-hour eye surgery. She was given a less than 1 percent chance of regaining her vision, prosecutors said.
Calling the case “extremely disturbing,” Sini urged people to call for help before domestic problems turn violent.
“Often people find themselves in situations with their family members where they feel helpless or threatened, and we want to encourage those people to reach out,” he said. “If you are in immediate danger, call 911. In nonemergency situations, you can also reach out to the district attorney’s office and we can put you in contact with a victim’s advocate who can empower you and help you navigate the process of ensuring your safety.”