Planet Princeton

Judge Orders Release of Princeton Man Who Killed Rabbi James Diamond in Crash

PriusThree weeks after a Princeton man was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2013 crash that killed rabbi James Diamond, a judge has ordered the man’s release from a psychiatric facility.

Eric Maltz, 22,was released from the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital yesterday after Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier reviewed his case at a hearing.

A psychiatrist said Maltz did not pose a danger to others and recommended that he be released with conditions. Maltz, who lives in Princeton with his family, must remain in psychotherapy, continue taking his medications and submit to random drug tests. He will not get his driver’s license back or be allowed to drive for now. His father will be responsible for supervising him.

Maltz 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 three weeks ago 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 could have received a sentence of 30 years for aggravated manslaughter and 10 years for aggravated assault. he could have spent up to the maximum prison sentence in the psychiatric hospital.

He spent the last three weeks in the criminal locked unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, and was to stay there “if and until the court finds that he is no longer mentally unfit, such that he poses a danger to himself or others.”

Rabbi James Diamond was killed in the crash.
Rabbi James Diamond

In March of 2013, 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 released at the time to Planet Princeton and other media outlets via the state’s Open Public Records Act 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 for a few months but was later free on bail and was often seen in his neighborhood riding his bicycle.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

3 comments

  • His early release is definitely shocking considering that he killed one man and seriously injured another. What if that propane tank had exploded as well? Why was this man even driving a car? If he had come from a poor family, he would still be in jail or a psychiatric ward.

  • This man has been a Criminal Court Judge for 5.5 years. His experience before that was as the Municipal Judge in Pennington/Hopewell Borough. He REALLY feels he has enough experience to make a decision to release this murderer back into our Princeton community after serving 3 weeks??!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? God help us.

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