Joseph Bontempo Jr., a 53-year-old locksmith, is accused of killing his wife of 12 years, Laurie Wolfe, 57, an Oakland businesswoman who owned the house on Saroni Drive where the couple lived.
Bontempo, who told investigators that his wife was injured during a fall at their home, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 15. He pleaded not guilty Aug. 18 and is being held without bail.
Police say Bontempo killed the woman, who he'd been in a relationship with for 20 years, in a brutal physical attack at their home on July 6.
Wolfe's death was originally listed as suspicious but later classified as a homicide after an autopsy showed her injuries couldn't have happened in a fall, officials said.
Bontempo's attorney, Ed Swanson, disputed prosecutors' claims.
"This is not a homicide," he said. "It's a tragic loss for my client, who lost his wife and partner of 20 years. It's a loss for everyone who knew and loved Laurie and he intends to fight this case until he's vindicated."
Swanson said Bontempo has declined to speak about the death from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where he is being held without bail.
Asked how his client is doing, Swanson said, "It's a hard time."
Police did not release information about the attack until after prosecutors charged Bontempo with murder.
Police said in a 911 call on the night of the slaying, Bontempo said he and his wife were alone in their home on the 6700 block of Saroni Drive. He told dispatchers that "his wife had slipped on the stairs of their residence," according to court documents. He said he did not see her fall but found her at the bottom of the staircase.
Investigators interviewed Bontempo and found his story of what happened inconsistent with the physical evidence, though all of the evidence has not been made public.
The coroner's office determined that Wolfe's injuries were from blunt force trauma that couldn't have happened during a fall and classified the case as a homicide. Police would not say how Wolfe was assaulted.
Bontempo was arrested Aug. 12 on Crane Way in Montclair while driving away from a friend's house. When investigators tried to interview him following his arrest, he declined to talk, police said.
Wolfe was the owner of Ace Machine Co. in East Oakland, having taken over leadership of the company three years ago after the death of her father, who had founded the business in 1956.
Police said that since her death, the business has closed.
Police are not commenting about a motive.
Bontempo and Wolfe met in a photography class 20 years ago and were together eight years before they married in 2002. They have no children. Police said they had not been called to the Saroni Drive home before for any domestic disturbance reports.
Staff writer Peter Hegarty contributed to this story. Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.