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Woman finds brother dead on floor of Henrico home; roommate arrested for murder

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A man was arrested for beating his roommate to death Thursday night in a Henrico home. Ronnie Marlon Barner, 56, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Gene Purnell inside a home along the 4400 block of Carpenter Road, off East Laburnum Avenue.

Ronnie Barner (PHOTO: Henrico Police)

Ronnie Barner (PHOTO: Henrico Police)

The home belonged to Purnell's sister Helen who said Ronnie and her brother Gene lived together on Hill Top Drive in South Richmond. She said her brother Gene recently complained to family about Ronnie's erratic behavior.

Gene Purnell's sister Helen (PHOTO: Jon Burkett)

Gene Purnell's sister Helen (PHOTO: Jon Burkett)

Helen said her brother was at her home Thursday when Ronnie showed up and was acting disrespectful. She said he was shaking up beer cans and spraying them around her house.

When the situation appeared to calm, Purnell's sister said she left the home to run some errands. When she returned 15 minutes later, she said she found her brother dead on the floor.

Gene Purnell (PHOTO: Purnell family photo)

Gene Purnell (PHOTO: Purnell family photo)

Ronnie Barner was later located in the area and placed under arrest.

Barner's criminal history includes arrests in 2012 for assaulting emergency personnel  and being drunk in public and arrests in 2014 for possession of a controlled substance and entering a property with the intent to do damage.