Border Patrol Agent to stand trial for hatchet attack

By SignOnSanDiego News Services
Monday, December 14, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

VISTA — A U.S. Border Patrol agent was ordered today to stand trial on attempted murder charges for allegedly wielding a hatchet on a young man and his girlfriend in a bungled plan aimed at the defendant's estranged wife.

Gamalier Reyes Rivera, 33, was also ordered by Judge Joan Weber to face counts of assault with a deadly weapon, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary, following a daylong preliminary hearing.

The prosecution alleges Rivera was aiming at his estranged wife, but inadvertently chose the wrong room of an unfamiliar house in Escondido. The man who was the most severely injured in the July 9 attack testified he was sleeping with his girlfriend in the bedroom of the house at 835 Upas St. when their dog began barking. When the animal wouldn't stop, he reached for his glasses.

``That's when I felt the first hit,'' said Chris Anguiano, who testified from a wheelchair. He said his attacker landed a blow to the collarbone on the right side of his chest, and he didn't know at the time what sort of weapon was used against him.

Anguiano said he fell on top of his girlfriend and was struck again in the back, but managed to wrestle with his attacker and turn on a light. ``That's the last thing I remember doing before I woke up in the hospital,'' Anguiano said.

The young man, who worked as a nurse at Palomar Medical Center and planned to take classes to become a registered nurse, said his injuries left him legally blind and crippled.

``I need a lot of help to eat, to brush my teeth, to pick out what I'm going to wear,'' Anguiano said. ``I can't walk without someone being there.'' His girlfriend suffered large cuts to her legs and the tip of a big toe was cut off.

Rivera's estranged wife, Erika Von der Hyde, was asleep in another room with her new boyfriend when the attack started, and they were awakened by screams.

The woman's boyfriend disarmed the defendant, who ran off before being apprehended at a nearby 7-Eleven store.

Escondido police Detective John O'Donnell said Von der Hyde and Rivera met at the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, where she worked as a secretary and he as a guard, and they were married in 2002.

The detective said Von der Hyde told him they separated in 2005 and reunited in 2007, but Rivera filed for divorce in 2008. The couple lived in separate units of the same Imperial Beach condominium complex because they shared custody of their daughter, he said.

Four days before the attack, she and her daughter moved into the Escondido house because she feared his ``stalker'' behavior, according to the detective. One day before, a Family Court judge ordered Rivera's wages garnished to pay $2,200 a month in child and spousal support, O'Donnell said. San Diego police Detective Bill Puente testified that in 2005, Von der Hyde found a page with notes Rivera had written that made it appear that her life was threatened. Puente said he submitted a case with the District Attorney's Office, but no charges were filed.

O'Donnell said the woman told him Rivera had choked her once.

Two bloody hatchets were found by residents of the house after the attack, the detective said.

``There was blood everywhere (in the house),'' O'Donnell said. ``Smears, numerous blood stain patterns on the wall and the floor.''

The judge ordered Rivera, who is in custody, to return to court Dec. 30 to receive a trial date. He faces multiple life terms in prison if convicted. ... et-attack/