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Man Held in Fatal Stabbing of Nurse


A construction worker was arrested Friday in the fatal stabbing of an emergency room nurse in her Beverlywood district home, West Los Angeles police said.

Jose Francisco Guerra, 34, of Los Angeles was booked for investigation of murder and held without bail in the killing of Kathleen Powell early Thursday evening, police said. Guerra was a member of the construction crew working on a house renovation next to Powell's residence, investigators said.

Homicide detectives said the 34-year-old nurse was discovered with multiple stab wounds about 7:30 p.m. Thursday by Dr. Charles A. Sims, the man she lived with in the one-story house, which borders the exclusive Hillcrest Country Club. Police recovered the knife used in the slaying but declined to provide any details in the case.

Lt. George Harris said Powell may have had casual contact with Guerra before the slaying but said they would not release any other information until their investigation was completed.

"Whether he just saw her and decided to come by or how he came in to the house, we're just not saying at this time," Harris said. Guerra is expected to be arraigned early next week.

Detectives and lab technicians spent nearly 12 hours seeking evidence at the residence "because the crime scene was scattered all over the house." Police did not elaborate and said it had not been determined whether Powell had been sexually assaulted or robbed.

Neighbors and co-workers were stunned by the killing. Police said Powell was getting ready to work a night shift in the emergency room at the Beverly Hills Medical Center shortly before the attack. She had worked at the 240-bed community hospital for the last two years.

"She was a very nice, very caring individual," said Rose Marie Essler, nursing administrator at the hospital. "We can't believe that this happened."

One neighbor of Powell's, who asked to remain unidentified, said he saw her talking to a man on the street early Thursday evening. However, neighbors said they didn't hear anything out of the ordinary until paramedics and police arrived shortly after Sims discovered Powell's body in the utility room.

"I rarely saw her, even walking around the neighborhood," said Kazuo Tomita, who lives across the street. "She stopped by to pick up a (UPS) package the day before, and that's the first and last time I ever spoke to her."

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