Man accused of brutally beating, killing elderly man faces murder charge

Man accused of brutally beating, killing elderly man faces murder charge
Johnny Battle 'was a good man with a good heart.' (Source: Family photo)
Johnny Battle 'was a good man with a good heart.' (Source: Family photo)
Johnny Battle, 80 (Source: Family)
Johnny Battle, 80 (Source: Family)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A man police say is responsible for brutally beating and killing an elderly man in Richmond in April now faces a first-degree murder charge.

Police say Michael McReynolds killed 80-year-old Johnny Battle at Battle's Decatur Street home and also attacked another man who was not seriously injured.

He'll face a jury in trial in October.

According to online court records, McReynolds is a convicted felon who has been found guilty of assault and battery, possession of a firearm and destruction of property, among other charges.

McReynolds was originally charged with aggravated malicious wounding charges in the incident.

McReynolds is from Chesterfield and served in the Marine Corps in the 1990s. Though he earned honors and medals, the last two decades have proven to be destructive for McReynolds.

In 2003, he was found guilty of assault and battery. In 2006, he served jail time after being found guilty of drug possession with intent to distribute.

While McReynolds was sentenced to 10 years in jail, all but seven months were suspended.

Most recently, he was sentenced to a year in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The crime happened in 2016, and court documents show McReynolds son called 9-1-1 because of a dispute at their home, telling dispatchers his father "had guns in the house and wasn't supposed to have them."

The same court records reveal shotguns were found in his home, though at the time, McReynolds denied they were his.

He was sentenced to a year in prison in 2017, and was supposed to be on a three-year post release supervision, during the time he is accused of brutally attacking Battle.

Neighbors said Battle was simply enjoying the sunshine Saturday on his back porch when McReynolds attacked him, hitting him, even stomping on him.

"This should be a place of comfort ... no one should go out the way my grandfather had to leave this earth - it's very inhumane," said Dwavon Battle, his oldest grandson.

Battle's family says he was a pillar in the Broad Rock Community. He had lived in his home since 1969.

"He was a good man with a good heart, and would do anything for anybody," said Dwavon.

Battle has four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Originally from North Carolina, Dwavon says his grandfather moved to Virginia to build a better life.

Despite not having an education, Dwavon says Battle made a career working at Bristol Steel.

Battle had 10 other siblings that he worked to provide for and help also build a better life for.

He was well known in the neighborhood as "Mr. Johnny," and his grandson says he was known for his kindness and his old-fashioned cars. Dwavon was raised by his grandfather for most of his life, living with him in the home on Decatur Street.

"Unbelievable, just to know where he came from where he was," said Dwavon. "I feel a responsibility to not let my grandfather's legacy die."

While heartbroken, and still somewhat in shock, Dwavon says the Battle family is not letting the tragedy tear them apart. They are determined to keep Battle's legacy alive, holding tight to the memories and the inspiration he leaves behind.

"The nucleus of our family - you took him way from us, but we're resilient. And we're not going to let my grandfather's legacy die," he said. "We're not going to let this deplete us. As the Battle family, our last name says it all."

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