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Fatal Hammer Attack Nets 30-Year Sentence
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A Riverbank woman has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for killing her roommate with a hammer, beating him to death with blows to the face and head during a fight in 2007.

Kathy Bronzini, 51, was convicted on May 13 of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Joe Garcia, 80, according to information released from the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office of May 24.

At the time of the incident, she already had a 2004 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, a strike under California's "Three Strikes" law, according to Deputy District Attorney John Baker who prosecuted the case.

The killing occurred on Oct. 24 of 2007 at Garcia's home in the 3800 block of Dakota Avenue east of Terminal Avenue.

Garcia's family said he had been lonely since the death of his wife five years before and had taken Bronzini into his home on an agreement she would do household chores in return for receiving room and board.

They argued frequently, however, and on the day of the killing Bronzini attacked Garcia with a hammer and kept hitting him until he escaped onto the porch where neighbors stopped the fight. Sheriff's deputies found him lying in a pool of blood and he died several hours later in a Modesto hospital.

Sheriff's Detective Mark Copeland said Bronzini confessed during questioning.

She originally claimed self defense against unwanted sexual advances. But Garcia stood only 5 foot 5 besides being elderly and witnesses of the attack said Bronzini was still striking him when he was lying on the ground outside the house.

Last December, Bronzini pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder charge. But her court appointed doctors reported that she was legally sane when she beat Garcia to death.

Judge Ricardo Cordova handed down the sentence.