A 32-year-old Reston woman was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend Dec. 23 shortly after Fairfax County police had left her apartment, the woman's sister testified yesterday.

Rose Beale was stabbed repeatedly with a butcher knife about 10 minutes after two police officers had left the apartment, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said at a preliminary hearing in the case against Larry L. Sharp. The officers were called to the apartment by Beale's sister, Paulette Carter, after Sharp began hitting and threatening Beale, Horan said.

Carter testified that police arrived about 35 minutes after she placed the call, and that by then Sharp had taken a knife from the kitchen and left the apartment.

"He said she put him out in the cold like a dog and he was going to get her," Carter told General District Judge Frank B. Perry III.

Carter said her sister had broken up with Sharp, the father of one of Beale's children, two weeks before the stabbing and had refused to allow him to stay in her apartment.

Sharp has been charged with murder, breaking and entering and distributing cocaine. He has been in jail since Dec. 24, held in lieu of $150,000 bond.

His lawyer, R. Dean Kidwell, said Sharp has not yet entered a plea. "He has no response at this time," Kidwell said.

Police spokesman Bill Coulter testified that while a 35-minute response time "is longer than we would want," a quicker response might not have changed the outcome.

"In this particular case, the man was gone" when the officers arrived, Coulter said. He also said that police get many calls in which one person has threatened to kill another, and that often there is little an officer can do unless he sees an assault committed.

After Sharp threatened "to get" Beale, Carter testified, she called police. Before they arrived, she said, Sharp slashed the tires on her car. Then, after the officers had left, Sharp returned, Carter said, breaking through the sliding glass door.

"He kept stabbing at her, stabbing her shoulder," Carter testified. While another sister, Brenda Beale, hit Sharp with a pan, Rose Beale ran out the door, Carter said, but Sharp followed. Carter said that when she looked outside, she found her sister "lying at the bottom of the steps with a knife in her chest."

James R. Gogan, one of the police officers who arrived at Rose Beale's Beacontree Lane apartment after she was stabbed, testified that he saw a "trail of blood from the bottom of the stairs to the top," continuing into almost every room of the apartment.

Perry decided there was sufficient evidence to send the case to the grand jury and set a tentative trial date of March 2.