A judge set bail at $2 million Friday afternoon for the woman accused of using a hammer to kill an elderly Riverbank man.
Kathy Bronzini, 47, pleaded innocent at her arraignment before Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Richardo Córdova. She remains in jail on charges of murder, elder abuse and violating probation.
Witnesses told Sheriff's Department investigators that Bronzini hit Joe Garcia, 82, several times in the head with a hammer Wednesday. 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 family members waiting to hear Bronzini's plea Friday said Garcia was a giving, strong-minded man who 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.
Family members felt Bronzini was taking advantage of Garcia, said Monte Garcia, 42, Joe Garcia's nephew.
"Today we found out his accounts were out of money," Garcia said.
Family members said Bronzini would leave Joe Garcia when he refused to pay her, but she always returned. They urged him not to let her back into his house and even called police to ask for help keeping Bronzini away, but nothing worked, Monte Garcia said.
Bronzini's son, Vincent, also sometimes lived in the home, he added.
"When they were there, my uncle wouldn't leave the house. He didn't feel comfortable leaving them there alone," Monte Garcia said.
Vincent Bronzini has apologized to the family, Monte Garcia said.
Bronzini will return to court Nov. 9 at 8:30 a.m.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or email@example.com.