The last time Diane Barnes visited her brother Robert, who was living on the streets in Olney, was in January. She brought him new boots for the cold weather. She also tried to give him new gloves.
"He insisted that I give [the gloves] to his friend," who also was homeless, his sister recalled Thursday night.
The next time she saw her brother, it was in a surveillance video released to the media showing him being viciously attacked outside a Sunoco in Olney on April 7.
She recognized her brother from the new boots.
On Wednesday, Robert Barnes, 51, died at Abington Memorial Hospital.
The video, which was widely aired, shows a vehicle pulling up to the Sunoco at 5338 N. Fifth St., and three women and several juveniles rushing out toward Barnes. In all, he was ambushed by six individuals who used Mace, a hammer, and the leg of a rocking chair as weapons. Barnes suffered multiple skull fractures and broken bones, police said.
The attack left Barnes in a coma.
His sister said he eventually opened his eyes, but was unresponsive and remained in a vegetative state.
He initially was treated at Einstein Medical Center, then was transferred to a care facility in Willow Grove. On Sunday, his condition declined and he was transferred to Abington, his sister said.
Aleathea Gillard, 34, Shareena Joachim, 23, and Kaisha Duggins, 24, have been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy, and other crimes in the attack.
Three juveniles - two are Gillard's children and the third a friend - also were charged. They pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy charges in June, and were sentenced the following month to juvenile treatment facilities.
Prosecutors have said that if Barnes died, all six would face murder charges.
In September, all three women rejected a deal from the District Attorney's Office for a guilty plea in exchange for prison terms of seven to 14 years. They have been unable to post bail and still are in custody.
On the day of the beating, Barnes and one of Gillard's children were at the Sunoco offering to pump gas for spare change, police said.
Later that day, the child went home and falsely told Gillard that Barnes had hit him.
Barnes grew up in Roxborough, attended Catholic schools, and then worked as a roofer with his father, his sister said.
But Barnes descended into alcoholism and then homelessness.
News accounts previously described Barnes as a veteran, but his sister said that was not the case.
She spent Thanksgiving thinking that, "if anything comes from this," more needs to be done for the homeless.
Barnes would have turned 52 on Dec. 28.
"Tomorrow is my birthday," his sister said Thursday night.
"We would have been 51 together for a month," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "He called me his twin sister."