Labrant Dennis Had a Promising Career, but He's on Death Row

"When I went upstairs and saw my best friend the way you left them, I wouldn’t want anyone to see what I saw," Earl Little told Labrant Dennis.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author
By

Feb. 21 2024, Published 3:34 p.m. ET

Earl Little never forgot his best friend Marlin Barnes or the night he was murdered alongside their other friend Timwanika Lumpkins. Little and Barnes had been friends since they were 8 years old, playing football together up until college at the University of Miami. In fact, they were roommates, which is how Little stumbled upon the badly beaten bodies of Lumpkins and Barnes on the evening of April 13, 1996.

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Little would later say, "When I went upstairs and saw my best friend the way you left them, I wouldn’t want anyone to see what I saw," per the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Little was addressing Labrant Dennis, Lumpkins's ex-boyfriend and the father of her child. He was eventually arrested for these heinous crimes and was waiting to be sentenced when Little spoke to him. Where is Labrant Dennis now? Here's what we know.

Where is Labrant Dennis now? He's on death row.

According to the Commission on Capital Cases in Florida, Dennis was handed two death sentences for the murders of Barnes and Lumpkins. As of the time of this writing, the Florida Department of Corrections lists him as "out of department custody by court order," which means he could be appealing his case.

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Dennis was sentenced in February 1999 and during court proceedings, he was "berated by his victims’ families before a judge sentenced him to die in Florida’s electric chair," said the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Barnes's mother, Charlie Postell, screamed at Dennis that she wanted his "death to be 22 times as horrific as Marlin’s was. Marlin is more of a man than you will ever be, even in death."

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Lumpkins' father was equally as grief-stricken and filled with rage. "Some people may say they forgive you, but I am not in the forgiving business," he said. The families of Lumpkins and Barnes yelled at Dennis for nearly an hour, seemingly unable to stop. As they sobbed uncontrollably, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Manny Crespo brought up the fact that Lumpkins woke up while Barnes was being killed. "One can only imagine the thoughts of fear, panic, and desperation that ran through her mind at the time knowing her own death was certain," he said.

Labrant Dennis killed Marlin Barnes and Timwanika Lumpkins in a jealous rage.

On April 13, 1996, just before dawn, Little tried opening the door to the campus apartment he shared with Barnes only to find something was propped up against it. When he was able to move it enough to stick his head through the door, what Little saw would haunt him forever. The bloodied body of Barnes was on the floor. "He turned his head a little to try to look at me and he had no face," said Little to The Plain Dealer (by way of Cleveland.com) in July 2001.

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Panicked, Little ran to a neighbor's home and banged on their door. He was screaming at them to call the police because "someone killed Marlin." When law enforcement arrived, Little heard one of them say there was a homicide. He collapsed then overheard another officer say there was a second person in the apartment. "They brought a girl downstairs, but when they showed her to me, I was in such shock that I couldn't bring out her name at first." It was 22-year-old Timwanika Lumpkins.

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A few weeks later on May 1, police arrested Dennis, then 23, and "charged him with two counts of first-degree murder," per United Press International. Dennis and Lumpkins dated for four years and shared a 3-year-old daughter. Initially, he told police he was at a nightclub the evening of the murders but "after conducting more than 100 interviews, police said they found the alibi was not substantiated," said the outlet. Authorities also located the shotgun used to beat Barnes and Lumpkins.

After Dennis was sentenced, Little would go on to play for a few NFL teams. In July 2001, Little was with the Cleveland Browns when he was profiled in The Plain Dealer. He talked about how heartbreaking it was returning to football after losing Barnes. However, every time he stepped on the field he knew Barnes was with him. Sticking with the game they loved so much is just what his friend would have wanted.

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