Berkeley murder case on hold pending psych eval

Gabriella Riemer has yet to enter a plea in the case because she has been in a medical facility, according to court papers.

Berkeley murder case on hold pending psych eval
A memorial for Heather Riemer in the lobby of the Berkeley apartment building where she lived. Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

The case of a Berkeley woman who is accused of murdering her mother last month has been suspended for a mental health assessment, according to court papers.

Police say Gabriella Riemer, 23, fatally stabbed her 60-year-old mother Heather Riemer at their apartment March 17.

Gabriella Riemer has yet to enter a plea in the case because she has been in a medical facility, according to court papers.

On Thursday, Riemer's attorney formally declared doubt as to whether she is mentally competent to stand trial.

Judge Gregory Syren then suspended criminal proceedings and appointed a psychiatrist to assess her, according to court records.

Heather Haunani Riemer. Dignity Memorial

On March 17, a security guard at 1370 University Ave., the large apartment building where the women lived, called Berkeley police when Gabriella came into the lobby covered in blood just before 2:50 p.m., according to court papers.

She had a "wagon-style cart" with her that contained her mother's driver's license and keys.

Riemer claimed her mother had tried to attack her, but police found no evidence of that.

She told the security guard she may have used a butcher knife to stab her mother, who was still in their apartment, according to charging papers.

A dispatcher advised officers that there was documented history of the daughter having victimized the mother, according to radio traffic reviewed by The Scanner.

Responding officers found Heather Riemer inside the unlocked apartment lying on her back with her arms crossed over her chest. She wasn't breathing.

Riemer had severe lacerations to her leg, arm, neck and face. Police described the lacerations as "extremely deep."

The Berkeley Fire Department pronounced her dead at the scene just after 3 p.m.

Authorities took Gabriella Riemer to an interview room at the police station, where they collected samples of the dried blood covering her face, hands, neck and arms, police wrote.

Officers also searched the apartment, where they found several knives with blood on them, as well as a cellphone covered in what appeared to be blood.

Gabriella "indicated that she did not remember much" of what happened March 17, police wrote, but she "laughed hysterically" when they played her the 911 call where she had told dispatchers she had stabbed her mother in self-defense, police wrote.

"Of note, Gabriella did not have any visible injuries, nor did she report any," police wrote.

Officers found surveillance footage showing both women walking back to their apartment at about 1:15 p.m. on the day of the stabbing, BPD wrote.

Read more about crime in Berkeley.

Gabriella Riemer is now set to return to court June 7 following the mental health assessment, according to court records.

According to her online bios, Heather Riemer had three children and was originally from Hawaii.

She was a board member for the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network and a longtime advocate for mental health services.

Berkeley woman charged with fatal stabbing of her mother
The Alameda County DA’s office charged Gabriella Riemer on Wednesday morning with the murder of 60-year-old Heather Riemer.

The Riemer homicide is not the only serious case in Berkeley to have been suspended this year due to mental health concerns.

In January, the criminal cases against both Byron DeCles and and Wayne Johnson were also suspended pending psychiatric review.

Byron DeCles, 22, has been charged with the attempted murder of two relatives in connection with a stabbing attack at their Berkeley home, called Greyhaven, in December. He is set to appear in court May 3.

Wayne Johnson was charged with repeatedly stabbing a stranger in an attempted murder outside a downtown Berkeley bank last September. His next court date is May 10.

Have questions about crime in Berkeley? Alert The Berkeley Scanner.