SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco woman made her first court appearance Friday on a murder charge accusing her of killing and dismembering her roommate, whose body prosecutors say was discovered in plastic bags at their home.
Lisa Gonzales, 47, has been charged with murder for the killing of Margaret Mamer, 61, which allegedly occurred at the Mission District apartment they shared, according to court documents.
Gonzales has not entered a plea and her arraignment was postponed to Thursday.
“I think in a case this serious, it’s more important to have all the information before we enter a plea and that’s what I’m waiting to do,” Public Defender Alex Lilien said today outside of court.
“She’s charged with murder and she’s being portrayed as a monster in the media and that’s distressing. She’s concerned about her family and she has the concerns that any normal person who’s facing this kind of charge would,” Lilien said of Gonzales.
“The facts of this case are very disturbing,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian said. “Our case is going to do everything we can to bring justice to this particular family and this victim.”
According to court documents, officers discovered Mamer’s body inside a container in a storage locker on June 2 at the apartment building, located in the 200 block of 14th Street, when they went to do a welfare check on Mamer.
A day earlier, Mamer’s friend had reported her missing and a day before that, a different person reported to police the possible murder of Mamer at the hands of Gonzales, court documents said.
After discovering Mamer’s body, officers arrested Gonzales.
When interviewed by investigators, Gonzales reportedly said that she and Mamer had gotten into an argument but said that she had no recollection of the events afterward and when asked what happened by investigators, Gonzales said, “probably nothing good.”
Investigators learned that Gonzales rented a room to Mamer starting in August 2017 and charged her only $400 per month after learning that Mamer had recently lost her home and fallen on hard times. However, by December, Gonzales became frustrated after things around the house started to go missing or were misplaced.
Gonzales allegedly then asked Mamer to move out, but Mamer stayed in the apartment and around mid April, Gonzales gave her a 30-day notice to leave. Mamer, however, did not leave, according to court documents.
The account of a different roommate revealed that on May 15, when that roommate came home, Gonzales told them not to go in the bathroom. Later that evening, the roommate reported a “metallic” smell at the apartment and when they left to go to the store and returned, they smelled the scent of vinegar.
The following day, the roommate said they heard what sounded like a saw being used in the bathroom. That same evening, the roommate said the apartment smelled like rotten eggs.
When the roommate asked Gonzales where Mamer was, Gonzales confirmed that Mamer left “but not the way she should have,” court documents said.
Days later, the roommate said they saw a hacksaw underneath the sink in the laundry room and also noticed that a plastic container in the home was missing.
On May 31, the roommate told another person that they feared that Gonzales had killed Mamer. That person then reported it to officers at the Ingleside police station.
The following day, Mamer’s friend made a missing person report, saying that they hadn’t seen Mamer since May 15 and that she was living at the 14th Street apartment.
When officers showed up at the residence the next day, Gonzales allowed them to search it, in addition to the common storage area where Mamer was ultimately discovered.
Upon inspection, officers noticed a “pungent” odor coming from inside the storage locker. After noticing the plastic container, which was in plain view, the officers opened it and saw a plastic bag covered with maggots and liquid coming out, according to court documents.
As officers were about to open the plastic container, Gonzales allegedly expressed reservation and the officers stopped and obtained a search warrant before proceeding.
After obtaining the search warrant, officers opened the plastic bag and saw Mamer’s cut-up body; with her limbs sawed-off and head and torso still intact, court documents said.
The city’s medical examiner’s office has not determined a final cause of death but concluded that Mamer’s death was a homicide and that Mamer suffered blunt force trauma and “sharp force” injuries.
According to court documents, Gonzales was convicted in 2004 of assault with a deadly weapon after she struck a co-worker in the face with a metal object, fracturing the woman’s jaw and shattering her teeth. Gonzales served a year in San Francisco jail and was placed on five years probation afterward.
Gonzales remains in custody and is being held without bail, according to jail records.
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