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Employees at Napa State Hospital are holding a vigil this evening to mark the second anniversary of the murder of psychiatric technician Donna Gross by a hospital patient. Gross, 54, of Concord, was strangled by Jess Willard Massey, now 40, in an enclosed courtyard at the hospital after returning from a dinner break on Oct. 23, 2010. Gross’ watch, two necklaces and her earrings were later found in Massey’s room, Napa County sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said. Massey pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in August 2011 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. The murder prompted calls for increased safety for employees of the California state hospital system, and eventually led to the installation of new alarm systems and additional ground patrols.
Participants in tonight’s vigil will include employees at several other state hospitals and development centers, patient advocates and community members, according to the Safety Now Coalition, a coalition of hospital workers that is helping organize the event. The vigil will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Attendees will light candles and lay flowers before Gross’ photo, and hear speeches by friends, employees, lawmakers and spiritual leaders, organizers said. State Assembly members Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, and Mariko Yamada D-Davis, plan to participate.
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