State

Suspect in Riverbank landlord's death ruled OK for trial

A woman accused of beating her elderly landlord to death with a hammer was found to be mentally competent and will face trial for his murder, a judge said Friday.

Judge Richardo Córdova found Kathy Bronzini, 49, mentally competent to stand trial and set her jury trial for Feb. 23.

Bronzini is accused of hitting 82-year-old Joe Garcia of Riverbank several times in the head and face with a hammer in October 2007 after an argument. He died 12 hours later of blunt force trauma.

Deputies found Garcia lying in a puddle of blood on his front porch in the 3600 block of Dakota Avenue. He had wounds on his face and head but was conscious enough to speak to deputies.

Garcia's family said he found Bronzini next to a store with a sign that read "will work for food." He invited her into his home and worked out an agreement in which she could live with him in exchange for cleaning, they said.

Deputy District Attorney John Baker said Garcia's family have attended "virtually every hearing" since 2007.

Bronzini remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center in lieu of $2 million bail.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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