FRANKLIN, Va. (AP) _ An 88-year-old widow has been charged with beating to death a 50-year-old man who lived with her.

Virginia B. Davis was arraigned on murder charges Tuesday and released on $20,000 bail. She was accused of killing John E. Wimbrow by beating him in the head and chest with her fists or a blunt object in March 1997.

``I'm shocked,'' the 100-pound great-grandmother said.

Her lawyer, Richard G. Brydges, said he was shocked, too. And skeptical.

``She couldn't open a car door without help,'' Brydges said. ``She's just a typical little blue-haired lady.''

Police gave no motive for the slaying.

Ms. Davis was indicted after a yearlong investigation.

Brydges said that their relationship apparently began as a romance but that eventually Ms. Davis became Wimbrow's caretaker.

``He was an alcoholic, as I understand it, and a very serious one,'' Brydges said. ``He didn't work much.''

After being fingerprinted at police headquarters _ ``I've never sat with an 88-year-old lady being fingerprinted before,'' Brydges said _ Ms. Davis kept asking the magistrate to repeat himself.

``She told him, `I think my batteries are down in my hearing aid,''' Brydges said.