Man who tried to kidnap Auburn barista accepts plea deal

Incident took place Jan. 16.

Matthew William Darnell, 39, initially charged in January for the attempted kidnapping of an employee working at a bikini barista coffee stand in Auburn, has accepted a plea deal and has pleaded guilty to a charge of felony harassment.

Prosecutors originally filed a charge of attempted kidnapping in the second degree against Darnell.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Darnell pulled up to the coffee stand at around 5 a.m. Jan. 16.

Surveillance footage from the coffee stand showed Darnell seizing the right wrist of the barista, a 31-year-old woman, as she handed him money. The footage showed him trying to lasso a 10- to 12-inch looped zip tie around her head and missing. Escaping Darnell’s grasp, the woman quickly shut the window and called police.

After Darnell’s arrest the following day of the incident, a search warrant executed at Darnell’s residence on Jan. 18, discovered additional zip ties.

King County Judge Joe Campana sentenced Darnell on Aug. 25 to 50 days in King County Jail, with 220 days of credit for time served for his previous time in custody, satisfying his sentence and resulting in his release from custody.

Both charges of attempted kidnapping in the second degree and felony harassment serve as Class C felonies.

According to an email from Casey McNerthney, director of communications at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Darnell would have received a similar sentence with a conviction at trial on attempted kidnapping as per statewide sentencing guidelines.

An agreement of 12 months of supervision with the Department of Corrections accompanies Darnell’s guilty plea.

“With this guilty plea he agreed to … supervision with the Department of Corrections, which would likely not be imposed if he had been convicted at trial on the initial charge because (Department of Corrections) supervision is almost never imposed on a sentence less than 12-plus months in prison,” stated McNerthney in the email.

Darnell also agreed to a lifetime civil anti-harassment protection order as part of the guilty plea, active for 100 years.

“If he were convicted at trial, the judge could only order him to have no contact with the victim for the statutory maximum of five years as a condition of his sentence,” McNerthney stated in the email.

According to McNerthney, the victim of the incident indicated her support for the resolution to King County prosecutors as the plea deal afforded her more protection than a conviction at trial.