Sister says roommate beat Henrico man to death

Sister says roommate beat Henrico man to death

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond man is charged with murder after police say he beat a man to death.  Ronnie Barner is at Henrico Jail West.  Family members identified the victim as Barner's roommate, Gene Purnell.  It happened Thursday night in the 4400 block of Carpenter Road.

One day after  Purnell's murder, his sister Helen McBee is speaking out.

"I know he ain't right," she said, referring to Barner.  "That man is crazy as a damn bed bug."

Police say Barner beat Purnell to death while both men were visiting McBee's home on Carpenter Road.  McBee says Barner was throwing beer cans inside the home and acting violently. She says she tried to kick him out numerous times, but he eventually calmed down. She then went to the store and was only gone a short time.

She describes the scene when she got home: "I opened the side door, I saw my furniture everywhere then I look on the side there, I see my brother laying on his back," she said.  "When I got there I said, 'Lord have mercy!'  I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, my brother opened his eyes and kissed me.  After that I freaked out."

Barner was arrested a short time later.  McBee says the men had been living together for about a year.

According to online court records, Barner has been in trouble before.  He was found guilty of destruction of property in 2014 and public intoxication in 2012.

Purnell leaves behind several children. McBee says he's a great-grandfather.

"A terrible loss," she said.  "Because my brother didn't bother nobody, he didn't hurt nobody.

Barner's next court date is set for September 17.  He declined an on camera interview for this story.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.