* Donna Gross A Napa State Hospital employee who was found dead asphyxia due to strangulation

Published by on October 26, 2010

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A Napa State Hospital employee who was found dead on hospital grounds Saturday evening died of asphyxia due to strangulation, Napa County sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said this morning.Donna Gross, 54, of Concord, a psychiatric technician, was found by a staff member at about 6:20 p.m. in an enclosed courtyard at the hospital at 2100 Napa-Vallejo Highway in Napa.Hospital medics tried to revive her but she was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m., Stuart said.Napa State Hospital patient Jess Willard Massey, 37, was arrested at the hospital early Sunday morning in connection with the killing. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Napa County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. today on murder and robbery charges.Gross had taken a dinner break at about 4:30 p.m. that day. She bought gum at a Target store and checked back in at the hospital at 5:15 p.m., Stuart said.Stuart said it appears Massey stole jewelry, gum and less than $2 in cash from Gross.A preliminary autopsy report indicated Gross was strangled. Stuart said investigators believe Massey used his hands and arms to strangle her. 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.A candlelight vigil will be held for Gross at 7 p.m. today at the front entrance of the hospital, where she had worked for the past 14 years.Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Brian Myers said this morning Massey has a history of violence against women.On May 26, 1996, the day Massey was released from Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., he took a bus to Sacramento and was dropped off at a parking garage near the state Capitol, Myers said.On the fifth floor of the garage, Massey saw a truck he wanted to steal and he waited for the owner, Myers said. When the owner, a female state employee, arrived, Massey attacked her, according to Myers.”He slit her throat almost ear to ear jumped in the truck and took off,” he said.The victim survived, and Massey was arrested a few days later at a motel, Myers said.Massey pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to attempted murder and guilty to sexual battery and carjacking. He was sent to Atascadero State Hospital with the stipulation that if he were restored to sanity, he would serve 31 years in prison, Myers said.Massey was at Atascadero State Hospital until he was transferred to Napa State Hospital in 2000.

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  1. Sam Toucan on Thu, 28th Oct 2010 9:26 am 

    Napa State Hospital and their security guards have know for years about the danger to women staff and women patients getting raped and murdered on grounds and other areas in the facility, but the guards and administrators did not do anything or make changes to stop the danger even though they claimed they needed more money to stop the danger and they supposedly did receive more money to stop the danger. But obviously money was either not actually received to stop rapes and murders, or the money was not spent on preventing rapes and murders even though they supposedly received the tax money, and who knows where any money given to Napa State Hospital is actually spent. This is not the first time a woman staff or woman patient has been and raped and murdered at Napa State Hospital and women staff do not know if they will leave the facility alive when they go to work each day. There have been several women as well as men raped and murdered at Napa State Hospital over the years and the guards and administrators only beg for more money every time a women gets raped and murdered and I know of no public taxpayer that actually knows where the money given to Napa State Hospital is actually spent, but I have heard money is not spent on actually protecting women employees from getting beaten, raped, and murdered and this is shameful.
    I learned from the internet and public information that several women have been raped and murdered at Napa State Hospital. One case is titled ESTATE OF Marilyn Marie CONNERS, v. Dennis Michael O’CONNOR Decided May 17, 1988. The case does not seem to be about right and wrong, but more about legal wrangling and loopholes, and in August 1985, Marilyn Conners, a patient at Napa State Hospital, was murdered by a penal code patient.
    Conners was admitted to Napa State Hospital in 1985. She was lured from her ward by a penal code patient, John Duncan, who, despite his demonstrated homicidal propensities, was permitted to roam the grounds of the hospital under official and de facto policies then in effect. Duncan led Conners to a remote part of the hospital grounds, where he raped and strangled her. Duncan pled nolo contendere to charges of second-degree murder and assault with intent to commit rape.
    Conners’ estate alleged in the amended complaint that Dennis O’Connor and three hospital administrators–Executive Director Fred Valenzuela, Clinical Director Stephen Donoviel, and Medical Director Thaddeus Kostrubala–were grossly negligent and recklessly indifferent to patient safety in approving ground privileges for the penal code patients. This conduct was alleged to demonstrate official indifference to the constitutional right of the victim to a safe environment while confined under state authority. See Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 102 S.Ct. 2452, 73 L.Ed.2d 28 (1982).
    The district court denied summary judgment based upon qualified immunity to suit, finding that there existed genuine issues of material fact. The district court relied primarily upon an affidavit submitted by Dr. William Schwartzman, Conners’ psychiatrist at the time of her death, in finding that the estate had demonstrated a jury question as to the defendants’ compliance with Youngberg.
    The plaintiffs rely primarily upon the affidavit of Dr. Schwartzman to establish the existence of a factual question on the violation of clearly established rights. A psychiatrist at Napa State Hospital for more than seven years, Dr. Schwartzman also had ten years of experience with violent mental patients. Dr. Schwartzman expressed a professional opinion that the hospital’s “approach in dealing with the assessment and determination of risk from violence, to non-violent patients from violent ones, is grossly and totally inadequate.” He stated that penal code patients are not given special consideration. Because assessment criteria are informal and vague, he continued, “patients with considerable violence potential are granted ground passes … without careful regard to situations likely to evoke their violent tendencies.” Schwartzman stated that hospital staff have received no training on assessment of patients’ potential for dangerous behavior. He also claimed that the hospital has been “glaringly deficient in developing any kind of specialized treatment programs for the Penal Code group of patients.” He claimed that, despite a history of violence among penal code patients at the hospital, the hospital staff made no attempt to rectify the problems.3
    Duncan had been admitted to Napa State Hospital after he pled not guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of rape and murder of another young woman. Approximately two or three weeks before Conners’ murder, Duncan had committed an assault with a deadly weapon and attempted rape on another female patient. The man’s character was thus well known to someone in the hospital, if not to these named defendants
    Dr. Schwartzman’s views are involved in another type of litigation arising out of his discharge by the hospital. See Schwartzman v. Valenzuela, 846 F.2d 1209 (9th Cir. 1988), decided this date.




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