By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
The elderly woman accused of killing her ex-convict roommate will not be released from custody unless she decides to pay her bail.
Del Norte County Superior Court Judge Robert Weir made the decision Wednesday to set 79-year-old Vera Inez Rehfeld's bail at $100,000, even after her attorney, Rick McClendon, urged the court to reconsider based on her age and health.
"Mrs. Rehfeld is going to be 80-years-old next July," McClendon said.
He added that she is suffering from many ailments including but not limited to, arthritis in her hips and shoulders, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, migraines, Sjgren's Syndrome (which leads to dryness of mouth), skin rash, and fainting spells.
"She's just generally in poor health," McClendon said after his lengthy diagnosis. He said he wanted Rehfeld placed on house arrest because she lives alone and is a long-time resident of the community.
But Del Norte District Attorney Mike Riese scoffed at the idea of releasing an alleged killer form custody.
"This is a homicide. She lives alone now because she killed her roommate," Riese said. "I cannot fathom any reason to release a person (from custody) charged with homicide."
Weir, citing that he wasn't present during Rehfeld's preliminary hearing, said he could make a decision based on the facts only presented to him at Wednesday's bail review hearing.
"I have no factual basis to work on except the charges," Weir said. "At this point, given the gravity of the offenses ... I'm going to leave the bail set."
Rehfeld who at her last court appearance on June 9, said she hoped to be out of custody to celebrate her 80th birthday seemed upset with the decision, turned to McClendon and said: "So I could die in there and then they ain't never gonna know the truth."
Rehfeld's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 for the stabbing death of 42-year-old James McElroy, a San Quentin State Prison parolee who was found dead inside Rehfeld's house in late January.