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Woodland Hills Man Kills Wife, Then Self, Police Say

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Times Staff Writer

A Woodland Hills man shot his wife to death then turned the gun on himself Wednesday in a murder-suicide that was apparently prompted by the couple’s impending divorce, police said.

The bodies of Mark Howard Brandwine, 37, and Michelle Sue Brandwine, 32, were found at the foot of a stairway inside their house in the 4800 block of Winnetka Avenue, Los Angeles Police Detective Joe Diglio said. The couple’s 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were asleep during the 4 a.m. shooting and were not injured, he said.

Michelle Brandwine’s 55-year-old mother, who had been staying at the house, witnessed her daughter’s slaying and fled to an upstairs bedroom where she called police, Diglio said.

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According to the mother, the couple had been arguing heatedly in the kitchen when Mark Brandwine, a sales manager for a Glendale auto dealership, pulled out a 9-millimeter automatic handgun, Diglio said. The mother said Michelle Brandwine ran out of the kitchen but was shot several times as she tried to climb the stairway, Diglio said. Brandwine then pointed the gun at his head and shot once, according to Diglio. Brandwine and his wife were pronounced dead at the scene.

According to court documents, the couple were in the final stages of a divorce that was prompted by the husband’s casino gambling, which had siphoned about $80,000 of the couple’s savings, including $33,000 from a trust fund established in the children’s names.

The wife filed for divorce last December and the couple separated briefly, with the husband returning in part on the condition that no guns be kept in the house, according to a statement filed by the wife’s attorney.

Mark Brandwine had stated that he did not want the divorce and, in a court document, promised to quit gambling and beating his wife “if this is what it takes to get the ball rolling until the old feelings return.”

The couple had been married for seven years.

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