Psych exam ordered for accused arsonist who fears zombie apocalypse

Monica Berlin. San Mateo County Jail mugshot.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A judge will appoint two doctors to determine whether a woman is competent to stand trial on arson charges after she professed fears of a cult mass murder and zombie apocalypse.

Monica Berlin, 39, of El Granada, is accused of torching 1,665 hay bales in Half Moon Bay.

Her lawyer, John Elworth, suggested in court Thursday that Berlin undergo an examination.

However, Berlin disagreed and asked to have him removed as her lawyer, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

But Judge Richard DuBois said Elworth will remain as Berlin’s lawyer.

In response, Berlin threatened to hit the county, the judges and everyone else with a civil rights lawsuit, Wagstaffe said.

The judge will appoint two doctors to examine Berlin’s mental state.

Berlin set fire to hay bales at the corner of Highway 1 and Seymour Ave. in Half Moon Bay on June 26 and July 3, the DA said. It was determined that the fires were a result of arson, since they were started at the top of the bales and an accelerant such as gasoline was used, according to the DA.

Spotted at the scene

Berlin had been a suspect regarding the fires because she was seen taking pictures of the burning hay bales. She went up to a firefighter and talked about a zombie apocalypse, but the firefighter told Berlin to go home for her own safety, Wagstaffe said.

On July 6, a deputy at Skyline Boulevard and Highway 92 spotted her grey 2004 Volvo station wagon driving south of Skyline and attempted to pull her over.

100 mph chase

She didn’t stop and drove south onto Canada Road and eventually onto southbound I-280, the sheriff said. Speeds during the pursuit went up to 100 mph, Wagstaffe said. The pursuit ended with Berlin yielding to CHP officers in the 300 block of Fletcher Drive in Atherton.

Berlin is charged with two counts of arson and fleeing from a police officer. If convicted of those charges, she could face up to four years and eight months in prison.

Berlin is in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.