CHICAGO (STMW) — Charges were upgraded to murder this week for two women accused of robbing and using a steel barbell in Feb. 2009 to beat a 73-year-old woman.

Her death was declared a homicide when she died about a year and a half later.

The morning of Feb. 25, 2009, 73-year-old Saint Barton was beaten with a steel barbell or dumbbell and robbed at her home, in the 6100 block of South Maplewood Avenue, according to police.

Police said Barton had allowed Wynester Lewis and Towanda Ware into her home to spend the night Feb. 24 because they needed a place to stay. Barton was the former foster mother of one of the women.

The following morning, Barton’s husband went to her bedroom after hearing sounds and allegedly saw Lewis and Ware running away. He then saw his wife — whose purse was gone — lying on the floor, bleeding from the head and face, police said.

Barton was left in critical condition with severe head injuries and taken to a nursing home at 10935 S. Halsted St, where she was pronounced dead at 11:42 a.m. on July 10, 2010, according to a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

An autopsy July 14, 2010 determined Barton died of bronchopneumonia, cranio-cerebral injuries from an assault, hypertensive cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the spokesman. Barton’s death was ruled a homicide.

Police said in March, 2009, 41-year-old Ware, who was the victim’s former foster daughter and Lewis, of the 1300 block of South Ashland Avenue, were charged in the attack.

But yesterday, Ware, of the 100 block of North Sangamon Street, and Lewis, 35, were charged with murder, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

They were already in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, initially charged with three counts of armed robbery, two counts of robbery and three counts of aggravated battery to a senior citizen, according to Simonton.

They both pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and all other counts were dropped, according to Simonton.

A bond hearing on the murder charges has not yet been scheduled.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)