Murder Defendant Pleads Not Guilty Despite Confession

On May 26, Lavaughn Barnes, 32, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder while armed despite confessing to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that he did  it. 

Barnes is charged for his alleged involvement in the murder of 59-year-old Abdul Arias-Lopez that occurred on Nov. 4, 2022 on the 1300 block of Kearny Street, NE. 

However, Barnes’ lawyer, Anthony Matthews, says that because Barnes has cognitive disabilities and a lawyer wasn’t present at the time the confession is invalid. 

Arias-Lopez was not located until Feb. 3, when Barnes called 911 stating that he had found a body in his backyard. 

According to court documents, Barnes told the dispatcher that he had gone into his backyard and found what appeared to be a human corpse. 

“It was a horrible smell, and I saw inside the bamboo… a human corpse almost gone, like animals had started to get to it,” Barnes is heard in the recording of a 911 call. 

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers showed up at his house and conducted an investigation. 

On Feb. 9, Barnes talked to MPD detectives about how he realized it was a body and the last time he saw Arias-Lopez. 

Barnes also told detectives that he hadn’t seen Arias-Lopez since before Nov. 4, when he failed to show up to paint his sister’s kitchen. 

According to court documents, Barnes’ sister tried to reach out to Arias-Lopez after Barnes alerted her that he didn’t show up, but her efforts failed. 

On Feb. 15, a detective interviewed Barnes at a homeless shelter, where he was residing after his sister told him not to return to her house. 

“I feel sick, I did it,” he can be heard saying in the recording of the police interview. 

“I was scared of the truth,” he continued. “I blacked out, used the taser gun and hit him in the back of the head,” he described. 

He can also said he dragged Arias-Lopez down to his basement and out to the backyard, where he left the body to decompose for months. 

“I’m sorry, I repent it to God… I have to tell my truth and I’m very sorry,” he can be heard saying. 

Parties are expected back May 30 for a detention hearing.

Follow this case