Almost a year after a 79-year-old former nun was found beaten and strangled in her Rainier Beach home, the man accused of killing her has...

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Almost a year after a 79-year-old former nun was found beaten and strangled in her Rainier Beach home, the man accused of killing her has been brought back to Washington to face a first-degree murder charge.

King County prosecutors charged Stephen McCandles Banks, 43, with the murder of Rose James on June 10, five days before he was arrested at a Las Vegas homeless shelter, said prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe. James was killed on Nov. 17.

Tom Lanier, supervisor of the Pacific Northwest Fugitive Apprehension Task Force, said yesterday that a confidential source contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Seattle, saying Banks could be staying in the Las Vegas area. That tip was sent to marshals in Las Vegas, and officials tracked Banks to a St. Vincent de Paul shelter, where he was arrested June 15, Lanier said.

Banks fought extradition to Washington and remained in a Las Vegas jail while King County prosecutors initiated formal extradition proceedings, Lanier said.

On Friday, he was flown to King County and booked into the Regional Justice Center in Kent, where he is being held in lieu of $2 million bail, Donohoe said. A date has not yet been set for Banks’ arraignment, he said.

James, a former nun from Minnesota who moved to Seattle in 1969, had managed the Alps Hotel in the Chinatown International District for 25 years. She made “a significant profit” as operator of the hotel and was known to keep a large amount of cash on hand, charging papers say.

In January 2004, James left the Alps after it was sold to new owners and enlisted the help of several previous tenants, including Banks, to help her move her business records to her Rainier Beach home, charging papers say. On the day of her death, she had a noon meeting with a man named “Steve Banks,” who was to help her with her computer, the papers say.

At 3 p.m. on Nov. 17, James’ harp teacher arrived at her house and called 911 when James didn’t answer the door.

Firefighters broke through a basement door and found James dead on her living-room floor, charging papers say. Investigators said it appeared she had been beaten to death with a fireplace poker.

An autopsy later revealed that James also was strangled.

Banks, who worked as a hotel clerk for James, was captured on a video-surveillance camera returning to his apartment the day of James’ death with a large bag that matched the description of James’ purse, according to charging papers.

On the day of the slaying, Banks left town on a bus, charging papers say.

DNA tests on cigarette butts found in Banks’ apartment matched DNA found under James’ fingernails, charging papers say.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or