Robertson Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

Robertson Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

Brutally beat and stabbed Fairfax man to death.



Nearly a year has passed since Aaron James Anthony Robertson beat Fairfax City resident Luis Barahona Reyes within an inch of his life. And when Robertson realized his victim was still breathing, he finished the job. 

He was arrested the next month; and two months later, he gave the police an unsolicited confession. Jurors watched a one-hour video of it during Robertson’s May 6-8 trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court. On May 9, they found him guilty of second-degree murder.

The offense took place June 9-10, 2023, behind a building under construction at 9715 Fairfax Blvd. in Fairfax City. What made this crime so chilling was its sheer brutality, plus the facts that the victim, 49, was a total stranger to Robertson and much smaller than his 6-foot-4, 230-pound attacker. 

City Police Det. Joe Pittman testified that, after seeing footage from surveillance cameras at both the Wawa and 7-Eleven near the crime scene, police identified Robertson, 30, as the suspect. Pittman also obtained a video showing both men riding on a City CUE bus, June 9, just after 11 p.m., before both exited at Draper Drive, some 350 yards from where Barahona Reyes’s body was found the next morning.

Robertson had no fixed address; but on June 11, police searched his room at a Fair Oaks hotel where he often stayed with his girlfriend. There, they seized the victim’s shoes. “The top and side of the right shoe was covered with blood,” said Pittman. “And a DNA examination identified it as belonging to Barahona Reyes.” 

Police continued investigating, talking to people in the vicinity of the crime scene, and eventually built a timeline of both men’s whereabouts on June 9. On July 6, police arrested Robertson on a second-degree murder charge – which was later increased to first-degree murder.

Then, on Sept. 12 – with permission from his attorney, Mike Sprano – Robertson asked Pittman to come to the jail and speak with him. The next day, after being advised of his Miranda rights, Robertson spoke to Pittman and Det. John Farrell while being videotaped. And he described in graphic detail how he killed Barahona Reyes.

Robertson said he’d gotten into an argument with his fiancé on June 9, and she pepper-sprayed him, so he packed his things and left. “And from that morning, I was drinking that whole day, two to four beers at a time,” he said. “That night, I was drinking near Wawa [directly across the street from the murder scene] and didn’t know where I’d go stay that night.”

When he got off the bus, said Robertson, a man [Barahona Reyes] was whistling behind him, but he kept walking. “He said, ‘Hey,’ and was speaking in Spanish,” said Robertson. “He seemed like he needed help getting home.” But then, said Robertson, “He [allegedly] said, ‘Me and you go back there’ and he pointed behind a building and [reportedly] said, ‘Sex; I give you money.’”

“So I got upset,” said Robertson. “We walked across the street, behind the building, and I put my bags down. I knocked him out and he hit his head hard. I took his beer and poured it over him and walked away. But I thought I should check on this dude.”

Robertson said he returned, asked Barahona Reyes if he was all right and told him he wasn’t gay. “He said something in Spanish, stood up near the wall, went in his pocket and got a small knife and lunged toward me,” said Robertson. “I told him to back up, but he lunged again.”

And although Robertson said he was “scared and nervous” when he saw the pocketknife, he also described it as the kind a “grandfather” would carry. He then said he easily disarmed the much-smaller man and attacked him again.

“I hit him, knocked him down, took the knife out of his hand and started choking him,” said Robertson. “I hit his head on the ground and kicked his head with my right foot. He stands up, but I kicked his butt and he fell over.”

Next, Robertson told how he picked up a nearby brick – which the prosecutor said was actually a rock – and hit Barahona Reyes with it. And when it broke, he got another one and continued battering the man. Noticing the victim was still breathing, Robertson said he then stabbed him with his own knife, aiming for his heart – and the medical examiner testified in court that Robertson succeeded in striking it.

“I know what I did, but I don’t know why,” said Robertson. “I was just focused on hurting this dude. I should have just told him, ‘Get the hell out of my face.’” He also explained how he tried to cover up the murder by getting rid of the victim’s belongings, throwing away his own blood-spattered shirt and discarding the knife in a sewer near his grandmother’s house in Maryland.

After killing Barahona Reyes, said Robertson, “I left my bags there, walked into the 7-Eleven and washed the blood off my hands. I walked back over there and didn’t know what to do. I never did nothing like that in my life; that wasn’t my intention. I got his arms and pulled him to the dumpster and covered him with cargo boxes and trash bags.”

During the trial, only the prosecution called witnesses to testify. The defense rested without calling anyone. Judge Michael Devine then gave instructions to the jury before the attorneys presented their closing arguments. He told them they could use their common sense in determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence and said their verdict had to be unanimous. 

“You are the judges of the facts, the credibility of the witnesses and the weight of the evidence,” said Devine. He said Robertson was presumed innocent, unless they believed otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt. He also explained the differences between first- and second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter. 

For first-degree, the killing must be malicious, willful, deliberate and premeditated. Second-degree lacks those last three elements. Devine also said malice may be inferred by “cruel and callous acts against another,” as well as by use of a deadly weapon.

Arguing for first-degree murder, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kaitlin Morgan said that, after Robertson first beat Barahona Reyes unconscious, he left and returned two hours later to find the victim still on the ground. “He was bleeding heavily from his head and had to use the wall to stand up,” she told the jury. “You heard [Robertson] describe how he then committed each intentional act. 

“He knew exactly what he was doing – and it was for no justifiable reason. This was an incapacitated victim that he brutally beat. [Barahona Reyes] had multiple, overlapping, blunt-force traumas to the head and was stabbed twice in the neck and three times in the chest. Robertson had no injuries, except for a small cut to his face while he was trying to strangle the victim.”

Furthermore, said Morgan, Robertson told police that, after the murder, “He takes the rock he used to kill Luis, breaks it up and puts it with the other rocks. He gathers up all the evidence of what he did, and anything that was the victim’s and throws it into the woods. The next day, he gets rid of the knife.”

Defense attorney Sprano called it “a terrible crime committed by my client.” But he said Robertson felt bad about it and knew it was wrong. “Nothing he did is excusable, but he wanted to hurt [Barahona Reyes], not kill him,” said Sprano. “The knife triggered fear that turned into uncontrollable rage.”

But Morgan said the victim had no idea Robertson would attack him when they first went behind that building. “He was blindsided,” she said. And instead of later calling an ambulance to render aid to the badly injured man – or simply walking away – Robertson returned to “finish the job.”

The jurors began deliberating on May 9. After 4-1/2 hours, the five men and seven women found Robertson guilty of second-degree murder. His sentencing is set for July 26, at which time he could receive anywhere from five to 40 years in prison.

Afterward, outside the courtroom, Barahona Reyes’s niece, Neyda Barahona, was disappointed that it wasn’t deemed first-degree murder. “I wanted him to spend the rest of his life in jail because I truly believe that, if he’s released, he’ll kill again,” she said. “He’ll be free someday, but I’ll never see my uncle again.”