Princeton resident Eric D. Maltz, 21, pleaded not guilty in Mercer County Superior Court today to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, death by auto and assault by auto in the spring crash that killed a beloved Princeton rabbi. Maltz is free on bail and his next court hearing is scheduled for March 6.
On March 28, Maltz drove a 2003 BMW at a high rate of speed south on Riverside Drive. He struck an unoccupied parked car, which ultimately struck a parked Toyota Prius. Rabbi Jim Diamond, who served as the director of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life for many years, was struck and killed as he was preparing to enter the Prius. Diamond was pronounced dead at the scene. Rabbi Robert Freedman, who worked at the Jewish Center of Princeton, was seated in the driver’s seat of the Prius and was seriously injured.
If convicted of the first-degree offense, Maltz could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison.
Maltz allegedly had a long history of mental health issues and had been released from a psychiatric facility shortly before the crash. Witnesses at the scene said he had a tank of propane gas in the passenger seat next to him. The presence of the propane tank and other records raised questions about whether Maltz intended to crash the car in order to harm himself.