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Napa State Hospital Patient Pleads Insanity 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 (CBS SF) — Jess Willard Massey pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity Tuesday to the murder of Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross last year.

Two doctors will evaluate Massey’s mental health and report to Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker on Aug. 1 when a trial date might be set, Deputy District Attorney Allison Haley said Tuesday afternoon.

Massey, 37, was held over for trial in May on murder, robbery and kidnapping charges.

He allegedly strangled psychiatric technician Donna Gross at the Napa State Hospital where he was a patient on Oct. 23.

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

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’s 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.

Massey was sent to Napa State Hospital after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to stabbing a woman in a Sacramento parking garage in May 1996.

Haley said a jury will decide if Massey is guilty of Gross’s killing and if convicted, whether Massey was insane at the time.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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