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Man held in wake of wife’s death

A 70-year-old Burbank man remained in jail Friday in lieu of $1.02-million bail as authorities awaited the official cause of death for his wife, who was found dead with a head wound in their home three days earlier.

Than man, Joseph Robert Brancato, appeared briefly in Los Angeles County Superior Court Thursday, where his arraignment was scheduled for July 21 in Los Angeles.

Brancato was arrested at 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, about an hour after his wife, 64-year-old Marie Brancato, was pronounced dead at their home in the 800 block of North Valley Street, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Police who accompanied firefighters to a medical emergency call that morning summoned homicide detectives after they noticed the woman had a head wound “and something just wasn’t right about the scene,” said Burbank Police Sgt. Robert Quesada.


The Los Angeles County coroner said the cause of Marie Brancato’s death remains under investigation.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is scheduled to review the case and determine what charges, if any, to file, Quesada said. If homicide charges are filed, the case would be the first homicide in Burbank since 2009, he added.

Joseph Brancato has a history of alleged violence, according to police records and neighbors. He was arrested in January 2010 for allegedly hitting his wife on the head, according to a Burbank police booking report. And Quesada said police had been called out to the home previously for “arguments and violence.”

One neighbor, who did not want to be named, said arguing could be heard all the time.


Ron Rossiter, a 40-year resident who lives a block away, said he didn’t know the couple and rarely saw them walking the neighborhood. But he often saw police cars.

“When I see them rolling by and once they pull over, I know what it is — some sort of domestic violence,” Rossiter said.