Judge to decide on moving Wiesel case to special court

The man accused of attacking author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in a San Francisco hotel on Feb. 1 is due to appear in court in San Francisco today.  The afternoon hearing is to determine whether his case will be diverted from criminal court to a special court where mentally ill defendants receive alternatives to prison time.

Eric Hunt, 23, is severely bipolar, his attorney says. On August 21, Judge Harold Kahn recommended Hunt’s case be diverted to the Behavioral Health Court, which would order Hunt to treatment for his mental disorder.

Hunt allegedly grabbed Wiesel, 78, and tried to pull him from the elevator to his sixth-floor room where, he wrote in an Internet posting at the time, he wanted to make the Nobel Peace Prize winner retract his Holocaust memoir “Night.” Hunt's attorney, John Runfola, said Hunt was in the midst of a psychotic episode at the time.

“He is not morally ill, he is mentally ill,” Runfola has said of his client. Wiesel has previously characterized Holocaust deniers as “morally ill.”

Prosecutor Alan Kennedy has said he does not support the diversion program for Hunt because of the seriousness of the allegations. Kennedy said Hunt should be sentenced to prison for the six felony charges, which include kidnapping, attempted battery, elder abuse, false imprisonment, false imprisonment of an elder and stalking, with hate crime allegations.

Hunt is due in court today at 2 p.m., where a judge will hear from attorneys on both sides as to whether the case should be diverted.

amartin@examiner.com  

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

Cyclists and runners move along JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park near the de Young Museum and the Music Concourse on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

City proposes a host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park

A man walks past the main entrance to the Hotel Whitcomb at Eighth and Market streets on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Closing hotels could disconnect hundreds from critical health care services

‘That baseline of humanity and dignity goes a long way’

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The remnants of trees burned by the Dixie Fire near Antelope Lake, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (Christian Monterrosa/The New York Times)
California’s wildfires invisible effect: high carbon dioxide emissions

This summer California fires emitted twice as much CO2 as last year

Latinos are dying at a lower rate than white and Black people in California. However, Latinos have had the sharpest increase in the death rate in the last month, rising from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people in August to 4 per 100,000 in September. (iStock)
Who’s dying in California from COVID-19?

In recent months, those who are dying are younger

Most Read