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Napa State Hospital Patient Pleads Not Guilty To Murder

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Napa State Hospital Entrance (California Department of Mental Health website)

The entrance to Napa State Hospital. (California Department of Mental Health)

NAPA (BCN) — Napa State Hospital patient Jess Willard Massey pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murdering and robbing a psychiatric technician at the hospital in October.

Napa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael O’ Reilley said Massey, 37, also denied allegations he was lying in wait and killed Donna Gross during a robbery. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 2 in Napa County Superior Court.

Gross, 54, of Concord died of asphyxiation after she was attacked in an enclosed courtyard at the Napa hospital on Oct. 23.

Gross took a dinner break around 4:30 p.m. She bought gum at a Target store and checked back in at the hospital at 5:15 p.m., Napa County sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said.

She was robbed of jewelry, gum and less than $2, Stuart said.

Gross’ watch, two necklaces and her earrings were found in Massey’s room, and the gum was found in a trash can on Massey’s ward, Stuart said.

The sheriff’s office believes Massey used his hands and arms to strangle Gross, Stuart said.

Another hospital employee, 60-year-old rehabilitation therapist George Anderson, was attacked at the Napa hospital on Dec. 11. He was hospitalized for treatment of fractures and released.

Sean Bouchie, 24, a hospital patient, was arrested for the attack and charged with battery, but he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. A decision regarding where he will be treated until he retains his competence will be made Feb. 1 in Napa County Superior Court.

The attacks prompted employees to call for more safety measures and increased staffing at the 138-acre facility, which can house 1,362 patients.

A town hall meeting to discuss worker and patient safety issues at the hospital is scheduled for Friday between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Napa Valley College. The forum is sponsored by state Assemblyman Michael Allen and state Sen. Noreen Evans, both Santa Rosa Democrats.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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