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Husband cleared after coroner determines wife was not murdered

December 15, 2011 |  7:40 am

Murder charges were dropped against a 71-year-old Burbank man after the coroner determined that his wife was not the victim of a homicide.

Instead, the man pleaded no contest to assault today after a coroner’s report showed the woman died of cirrhosis rather than a blow to the head, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Norman Hearon of the Family Violence Division said Joseph Robert Brancato entered the plea before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr. The judge ordered Brancato to undergo a diagnostic evaluation prior to sentencing and ordered the defendant back to court on March 13, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Authorities said Marie Brancato, 65, died at the family home in Burbank on July 5. Authorities said the woman had been struck on the head with a wooden chair leg, and Burbank police arrested Joseph Brancato.

Prosecutors originally filed a murder charge but a later coroner’s report concluded that Marie Brancato died of cirrhosis, Hearon told the Glendale News-Press.

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— Maria Hsin, Times Community News

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