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Earnest Dewitt Brannon, 67

Earnest Dewitt Brannon (2014-03-09)

Earnest Dewitt Brannon, a 67-year-old white man, was found dead Sunday, March 9, after he was strangled and stabbed in the 1100 block of West 98th Street in Westmont, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

Deputies responded to a call about a dead body about 10:40 p.m. in a home in the area, said Lt. John Corina with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Rooms in the home are rented out to people with mental health issues, Corina said.

Investigators said Brannon got into a fight with his roommate in the home and was strangled and stabbed. The home had been ransacked, and there were signs of a struggle.

Brannon was pronounced dead at 10:43 p.m., said Ed Winter, a spokesman with the coroner's office. Toriano Benford, a 43-year-old black man, was arrested on suspicion of murder the next day, according to Sheriff's Department online records.

The L.A. County district attorney's office declined to file charges against Benford, citing a lack of evidence, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman with the district attorney's office.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

— Nicole Santa Cruz and Frank Shyong

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