West Columbia man charged with murder from incident earlier this year

September 20, 2013 

Richard Earl Barnes


— Charges have been upgraded against a West Columbia man who was a suspect in a case where a mutilated body was found in a shallow grave.

Richard Earl Barnes, 41, was charged Friday with murder by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, according to a press release. A bond hearing has not been scheduled.

Already, Barnes was being held for being an accessory after the fact to murder in the death of David Johnathan Diblasi, 54 of Lexington. He also had been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing 28 grams or less of marijuana, the sheriff’s department reported.

A second man previously has been charged with murder in Diblasi’s death. Worth Edward Cook III, 27, of Batesburg-Leesville. He remains in the Lexington County Detention Center on charges of murder, financial transaction card fraud, obtaining property under false pretenses and violating the conditions of his court-ordered supervision, according to the press release.

Diblasi was reported missing to sheriff’s deputies on March 9 by his mother, who said she had last seen him at the home they shared on Feb. 25.

On March 5, Cook allegedly had used Diblasi’s credit card to buy diapers and supplies for a baby at Lexington-area Wal-Mart, the sheriff’s department said. Barnes accompanied Cook to the Wal-Mart but Diblasi was not with the men. Also, Cook’s girlfriend was pregnant at the time, the press release said.

In April, sheriff’s deputies excavated a burial site in the backyard of Cook’s home during the execution of a search warrant. They discovered Diblasi’s body, which had been stabbed. Diblasi had been stabbed in the left eye, and he had a fractured skull, the sheriff’s press release said.

Sheriff’s deputies also reported that Cook cut up Diblasi’s white 1996 Isuzu Hombre pickup truck and sold it to a scrap metal recycler. Diblasi had driven the pickup to Cook’s house when he was reported missing.

The sheriff’s press release said Barnes and Cook allegedly killed Diblasi sometime between March 9 and April 18.

Cassie Cope and Noelle Phillips

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