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Murder charges dropped against Burbank man

Murder charges were dropped this week against a 71-year-old Burbank man after officials determined that his wife was not the victim of a homicide, but instead died of a liver disease.

Joseph Robert Brancato had been charged with murder after allegedly inflicting a deadly blow to his wife’s head with a chair leg. But after coroner’s officials determined that Marie Brancato, 65, instead died of cirrhosis, he pleaded no contest on Wednesday to assault, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Deputy District Attorney Norman Hearon of the Family Violence Division said that after Joseph Brancato entered the plea, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr. ordered a diagnostic evaluation prior to sentencing.

Joseph Brancato is due back to court on March 13, according to the district attorney’s office.


Authorities said Marie Brancato died at home in Burbank on July 5 after being struck on the head with a wooden chair leg. Joseph Brancato was arrested a short time later.

He has remained in custody since July 6.

Joseph Brancato has a history of domestic violence. He was convicted of spousal abuse in December 1989, September 2002 and December 2010, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. In June 1997, he was charged with spousal abuse but convicted on battery charges.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News


Twitter: @mariahsin