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Attorney for Burbank man charged with beating wife had medical issues in jail

Joseph Brancato, 70, has allegedly sustained dislocated shoulder, stab wound while in custody

September 21, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

A 70-year-old Burbank man accused of beating his wife to death with a chair leg appeared in court Wednesday in a wheelchair after suffering from a fractured shoulder and back spasms in jail, his attorney said.

Joseph Brancato faces murder charges after allegedly beating his 65-year-old wife, Marie Brancato, to death with a chair leg. His public defender, Kasie Lee, told a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday that her client has been unable to attend two previous hearings due the injuries he sustained while in jail.

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FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Brancato's attorney claimed his client had been stabbed. The attorney actually told the court that Brancato had been suffering back spasms.

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He has remained in custody since July on $1.02-million bail.

Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said he was not familiar with the case, but said that generally, when a person is injured in jail, they receive the appropriate medical treatment.

Joseph Brancato was wheeled into the courtroom by a sheriff’s deputy, his left arm tucked underneath his prison jumpsuit.

Lee said her client fractured his shoulder during a fall in jail and had back spasms, and told the judge that he requires more medical care.

Superior Court Judge Edmund Clarke signed an order requesting that jail officials stay on top of Brancato’s medical needs.

Lee said she would check in with her client in a few days and notify the court if his medical needs weren’t being adequately addressed.

His preliminary hearing was pushed back to Oct. 17, the third time in two weeks that the date has changed.

County Deputy District Atty. Norman Hearon said he was still waiting on evidence, including the coroner’s report.

Marie Brancato was found dead July 5 in the couple’s home on North Valley Street. Police said she had been bleeding profusely from what appeared to be a traumatic injury to the back of her head.

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