Woman sentenced to 1 year for fatal hotel beating

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jail-cellSAN DIEGO — An Arizona woman who fatally beat a fellow guest at a Sorrento Valley hotel last year was sentenced Friday to one year in county jail and five years probation.

Donna Louise Powell, 41, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the September 2012 death of Pamela Guziak. The defendant initially was charged with second-degree murder.

Authorities said Powell inflicted a serious head injury on the 42-year- old Guziak during a Sept. 1 fight at a Hyatt extended-stay hotel in the 10000 block of Pacific Mesa Boulevard, where both women had been staying. Powell was vacationing at the time; Guziak had been living there for several months.

Judge Joan Weber cited the unusual nature of the case when she handed down the sentence. Deputy District Attorney Dennis Panish had sought a six-year prison term for Powell.

“I don’t think for one minute (Powell) thought Ms. Guziak would be seriously injured or killed” by her actions, the judge said, noting that no weapons were used and there was just one push.

Panish said the defendant went to the victim’s room after they exchanged words and got her to answer the door by announcing “housekeeping.” Powell then grabbed Guziak by the hair and slammed her into a mirror, according to the prosecutor.

“She (Powell) said, `This is what you deserve, bitch,” Panish said at an earlier hearing.

He would not elaborate on what the women fought about, but San Diego police said it didn’t involve drugs or money. They apparently took offense at what one another said, police said without elaboration.

The morning after the fight, Guziak was found unconscious but alive on the floor of her room by employees of the Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa. She was hospitalized and died several days later of a brain hemorrhage, according to authorities, who said she was also suffering from liver disease.

Police responded to an emergency call reporting the fracas but made no immediate arrests because it wasn’t clear who started the fight. Subsequent interviews with witnesses showed Powell was the aggressor, police said. She was arrested two weeks later in Glendale, Ariz., where she was living with her husband and two sons.

The judge warned Powell that if she violated terms of her probation, she would send her to prison for the six-year term.

“I have never given a defendant probation on a manslaughter case,” the judge said. “Don’t disappoint me, Mrs. Powell.”


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