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Man accused in psych nurse death pleads not guilty

A 37-year-old psychiatric hospital patient has pleaded not guilty to robbing and fatally strangling a nurse at the Napa County facility.

A 37-year-old psychiatric hospital patient has pleaded not guilty to robbing and fatally strangling a nurse at the Napa County facility.

The Napa Valley Register reports that Jess Willard Massey entered his plea Tuesday in Napa County Superior Court.

Massey is accused of strangling and stealing money and jewelry from 54-year-old Donna Gross in October. Her body was found on an outside patio at Napa State Hospital during a dinner break.

Massey was convicted of burglary in 1995 and admitted to the hospital in 1999 after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Less than two months after Gross' death, another patient beat a rehabilitation therapist unconscious.

Records show that attacks on staff had surged before Gross' killing. Security has since been stepped up.

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