Suspect in attempted Auburn barista kidnapping pleads not guilty at arraignment

The suspect the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office claims tried to kidnap a barista from a north Auburn coffee stand early on Monday morning, Jan. 16, has pleaded not guilty to the charge in King County Superior Court.

Matthew William Darnell, 38, of Auburn was not physically present for the Jan. 26 arraignment, but appeared from jail on video. The judge, at the request of Darnell’s legal counsel, Karri Anne Ridgeway, instructed media members not to film him.

Darnell remains in King County Jail in Kent on the $500,000 bail that a judge set at his first court appearance.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rhyan Anderson is prosecuting the case.

Here is a summary of what happened, according to the Auburn Police Department’s Certification of Determination of Probable Cause, which forms the basis of the prosecution’s case.

At 5:06 a.m. Jan. 16, a barista called 911 to report that a man had just tried to abduct her from her coffee stand at 2102 Auburn Way N., then failing in that, drove away in a dark-colored truck.

According to the police narrative, the coffee stand’s external surveillance video shows a man extending his left hand out of the driver’s side window to hand the barista cash. As he does so, the video captures the image of a tattoo that extends along his entire forearm and appears to read “Chevrolet.”

According to the police narrative, when the barista put her right hand out of the window to hand the man his change, he suddenly seized her right wrist, pulled her “violently toward him,” and tried to place a looped ziptie around her head, which failed. Once back in the stand, the woman quickly closed the window, and the man drove away.

Following the incident, the APD released information to the media, including the video and the image of the tattoo. Soon, the APD began receiving numerous tips about a possible suspect, with Matthew Darnell being the name most frequently mentioned, according to the police narrative.

According to the APD narrative, when police checked Darnell’s license, his picture appeared to resemble the barista’s description of the suspect’s face, and his state vehicle registration showed that he owned a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado truck.

On Jan. 17, detectives went to Darnell’s address and met him in his driveway. After officers read him his rights, according to the narrative, Darnell informed them he wanted to turn himself in. According to the narrative, Darnell’s face and hair and the tattoo on his left arm appeared to the officers to be an exact match to the suspect’s.

According to the narrative, Darnell then provided police voluntary consent to search his Chevrolet truck, which was in his driveway. When police searched the truck, according to the narrative, they found a black-colored ziptie about 10 inches in diameter under the front passenger seat, which appeared to match the size and width of the one seen on the video.

Darnell’s Omnibus hearing is set for Feb. 21 and his trial is tentatively slated to start on March 22 and last about six days.