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Crime

Former rabbinical student accused in 2020 of attempted murder on Pikesville campus gets probation before judgment after jury trial

A Baltimore County jury acquitted a former rabbinical student of most criminal charges during a trial last month following his 2020 arrest for allegedly trying to run over at least one staff member on the campus of Ner Israel Rabbinical College.

The jury found him guilty of one misdemeanor offense, resisting arrest, and not guilty of other more serious charges. He was originally charged with counts of first- and second-degree attempted murder.

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On Tuesday, Manooel Yerooshalmy, 35, of Baltimore, received a sentence of probation before judgment with one year of supervised probation and an order not to contact the school or visit its Pikesville campus.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Wendy S. Epstein said in the sentencing hearing: “One of the reasons mental health issues are so scary is exactly the reason we’re sitting here today.”

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Baltimore County Police said at the time that officers were called to the rabbinical school around 7 a.m. May 26, 2020, after a report of someone trying to run people over with their car on the campus. Police said Yerooshalmy drove after three staff members, chasing them before fleeing in the vehicle.

But Yerooshalmy’s attorney, Andrea Jaskulsky, said during his sentencing hearing that Yerooshalmy had gone to the campus to try to pray and was suffering from a mental health emergency at the time. No one was injured on the campus, Jaskulsky said, despite one rabbi reportedly calling 911 and saying there was a “terrorist.”

The only person injured in the incident, Jaskulsky said, was Yerooshalmy himself. He suffered broken ribs and a fractured back from “being beaten up by the police.”

“He didn’t get out of the car, he didn’t try to run, he didn’t gun his engine, he didn’t crash into anybody. He didn’t do anything. He was having a mental health emergency,” Jaskulsky said.

Jaskulsky said Thursday she was pleased with the trial’s outcome, calling the jury’s decision “the right result.”

Lisa Dever, now a deputy state’s attorney, requested Yerooshalmy be sentenced to three years in state prison, partly because she was concerned probation officers wouldn’t handle his case well.

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She read from a letter from one rabbi who said he couldn’t describe the “fear” he felt being pursued by Yerooshalmy. Dever said the rabbi didn’t want to see him incarcerated, but that he was worried about his safety and the safety of others.

Jaskulsky, meanwhile, requested a probation before judgment, with unsupervised probation. She pointed out Yerooshalmy had been held for 27 months, since May 2020, and had only been found guilty of a misdemeanor — and argued sending him to prison would be a “travesty.”

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Yerooshalmy spoke at the hearing, describing himself as a business owner who gave back to the community and had been in America for 20 years. Prior to the May 26 incident at Ner Israel, Yerooshalmy said he had been feeling unwell for a few days and was “scared of everybody.”

He was taken to Sinai Hospital the day before, after a candle he’d lit led to a fire department call, but was released in a hospital gown and walked back to his home. The next morning, he drove to Ner Israel’s campus to pray, he said. He described feeling scared when he got there, staying in his car and then leaving the campus.

When police arrived, he said he didn’t know what was going on. They broke his car window and hit him with a baton, Yerooshalmy said.

Epstein, the judge, said the one year of supervised probation could be modified if Yerooshalmy decided to leave the state of Maryland permanently to live with his family.

Under the terms of a probation before judgment, the jury’s “guilty” finding for resisting arrest will be stricken, meaning Yerooshalmy will not be able to appeal the finding. He has five years to request a sentencing modification.


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