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Friday, November 1, 2013

N.J. - Man Indicted for Death of Rabbi James Diamond

A Mercer County grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Wednesday charging a Princeton man with recklessly causing the death of a Rabbi James Diamond in March, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. announced today.

Eric D. Maltz, 21, of Braeburn Drive was indicted on one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, one count of second-degree death by auto and one count of fourth-degree assault by auto.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. 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 Diamond, the beloved Princeton religious leader and scholar 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, was seriously injured.

If convicted of the first-degree offense, Maltz could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison. He is free on $100,000 bail.  For several months after the crash he was housed at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Meidt presented the case to the grand jury.

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.

According to public records, Maltz struggled with mood swings and depression, and previously tried to hurt himself. According to a March 21 police report, Maltz’s father called the police to report that his son was acting out and throwing things around the house. 

The two had gotten in to a fight over his alleged marijuana use, according to statements in the report. When police went up to his room and asked what happened, he told police he was frustrated so he acted out by trashing his bedroom.

Maltz told police at the time that he was seeing two professionals for depression and mental health issues, and that he was taking two medications, Lamictal for mood stabilization and Zoloft for depression, according to police reports. 

He also told police that in September of 2012, he tried to hurt himself with a knife “however he did not want to hurt himself or others at this time.” His father made a request to police that he be taken to the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for evaluation and mental health treatment. 

The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad took him to the hospital without incident, according to the police reports.

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