Jonah Roper refused to come to court; arraignment held over

Berkeley police say they found two knives and blood on the steering wheel in the getaway car Roper used to flee the scene.

Jonah Roper refused to come to court; arraignment held over
Jonah Roper has been charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder. Berkeley Police

The man accused of murdering his mother and trying to kill two other people Saturday in Berkeley refused to be arraigned this week, records show.

Jonah Roper is now slated to be arraigned next week on the charges against him — but whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.

In recent years, it has become increasingly common for defendants in Alameda County to refuse to attend their own court hearings.

And, for the most part, that refusal means that whatever hearing was scheduled is put off.

Experts say the tactic has become prevalent since the pandemic and can sometimes result in lengthy delays.

Roper has already missed two court dates, records show. He is now slated to be arraigned Monday morning at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

A "drug addict who just got out of jail"

Roper, 36, is alleged to have killed his mother Saturday in a brutal stabbing on Overlook Road in the Berkeley Hills.

Early that afternoon, according to court papers, relatives called police to report that Roper, who was described as a "drug addict who just got out of jail," was armed with a weapon and "breaking things" after forcing his way into the house.

Police say Roper attacked his mother, 60-year-old Maura Ghizzoni, and his stepfather, who sustained cuts to the hand.

Roper's stepfather then fled the house while Roper chased him with a knife, according to witness reports.

Berkeley Hills murder suspect Jonah Roper has dark past
A police officer described Jonah Roper’s behavior as “erratic, violent and sexually inappropriate” after he broke into his mother’s home in 2021.

Three women walking outside then crossed paths with the stepfather and they went into a home nearby in the 1000 block of Middlefield Road.

Police say Roper then cut through a screen door to get inside that house, according to court papers.

Roper confronted the women and began demanding car keys "while swinging a knife at them," police wrote. After cutting one of the women, he fled with the keys, according to BPD.

Arriving officers found Ghizzoni in the backyard with multiple stab wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Read more about the Overlook Road homicide case on TBS.

Other Berkeley police officers spotted Roper fleeing the area in a stolen Honda Accord, BPD has said. They ultimately stopped Roper with their cruisers and took him into custody on Gilman Street near Whole Foods.

On Wednesday when they searched the stolen car, police wrote, they found one knife in the driver's seat and a second knife on the right rear passenger floorboard, according to court papers.

They also found blood on the Honda's steering wheel and black gloves on the passenger seat, police wrote.

Roper has now been charged with the murder of his mother and the attempted murder of his stepfather and a neighbor, in addition to other crimes.

The woman who survived the stabbing was treated at Highland Hospital but has since returned home to recover.

Roper has a documented history of psychiatric problems and violence, according to court records reviewed this week by The Berkeley Scanner.

In 2021, a police officer described his behavior as "erratic, violent and sexually inappropriate" after he broke into his mother's home.

"The pattern of being arrested and released from custody has not deterred Roper from continuing his erratic behavior," the officer wrote.

The Scanner will continue to follow the case as it moves through the justice system.

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