Wiesel's alleged attacker to stand trial

The alleged attacker of Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was ordered to stand trial despite the defense’s claim that the accused was experiencing a psychotic breakdown.

Eric Hunt, 23, of New Jersey, appeared in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday morning as Judge Ksenia Tsenin granted a prosecutor’s demand to go to trial. Tsenin was weighing whether to send Hunt back to the county Behavioral Health Court or to a felony trial.

Tsenin said Hunt’s case had been in pre-trial hearings “extensively” and that the defense has been taking the case from “court to court.” The prosecution has already denied a plea deal that would give Hunt

probation and time served.

Hunt’s attorney, John Runfola, claimed the defendant broke down in a bipolar episode just after he left college. The breakdown manifested in an anti-Semitic Holocaust-

denying dream world that he has since snapped out of.

But Assistant District Attorney Alan Kennedy said the prosecution was determined to take Hunt to court, and Bilen Mesfin, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, added that this was a serious case.

Runfola said his client shouldn’t sit in a prison cell for a mental health breakdown.

“It’s nonsense and preposterous and flies in the face of solo reports of two board-certified psychologists and all the medical records of two New Jersey hospitals,” Runfola said.

The penalty for six felony counts, including kidnapping, elder abuse, battery, stalking and two counts of false imprisonment, as well as hate crime enhancements, would land Hunt in state prison for several years.

As The Examiner first reported, Hunt allegedly grabbed Wiesel and pulled him out of an elevator in the Argent Hotel on Feb. 1 after Wiesel’s address at a peace conference.

bbegin@examiner.com

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