A Princeton man who was charged in a 2013 crash that killed a local rabbi has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Eric Maltz, 22, faced up to 40 years in prison if convicted of aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, death by auto, and assault by auto in the March 28, 2013 crash that killed beloved Princeton Rabbi James Diamond.
Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier ruled this week that based on the findings of an independent psychiatrist, at the time of the crash Maltz met the legal definition of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Maltz is now in the criminal locked unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital “if and until the court finds that he is no longer mentally unfit, such that he poses a danger to himself or others,” Mercer County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Doris Galuchie told Planet Princeton.
His condition and progress will be reviewed by a judge on a regular basis. After his first reevaluation this month, he will be evaluated every six months, Galuchie said.
“This can go on for a period not to exceed the maximum prison sentence that may have been imposed,” Galuchie said.
Maltz could have received a sentence of 30 years for aggravated manslaughter and 10 years for aggravated assault.
“If, after 40 years, he is still not capable of being released into society, he would have to face a civil commitment hearing,” Galuchie said, adding that a judge could also decide to release him after any of his hearings.
Maltz drove a 2003 BMW at a high rate of speed south on Riverside Drive and struck an unoccupied parked car that then hit a parked Toyota Prius. Rabbi 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.
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.
After the incident, Maltz was committed to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital but was later free on bail and was often seen in his neighborhood riding his bicycle.