A 20-year-old Arlington man charged with murder in the January beating death of a D.C. taxicab driver told police he had hit and kicked the driver, an Arlington detective testified yesterday.

Det. Stephen R. Carter said at a hearing in Arlington General District Court that Jose G. Solis, of 2321 N. 11th St., told police in a taped-recorded interview in March that he and a juvenile had attempted to rob the driver.

The driver, 42-year-old Douglas R. Thornton, who worked part time for Dial-A-Cab company in Washington, was found lying face down in the snow-covered parking lot behind 1720 N. Quinn St. in Rosslyn Jan. 21. He had been hit several times on the back of the head with a blunt instrument, Carter testified, and probably died during the evening of Jan. 18.

An autopsy showed that Thornton died of head injuries and hypothermia, Carter said in court. Thornton's cab was parked nearby, and his wallet and silver quartz watch were missing, according to an affidavit in support of a warrant to search Solis' apartment filed in Arlington Circuit Court.

Solis, a construction worker, was arrested March 21 and has been held without bond in Arlington County Jail. He has not entered a plea and his lawyers did not introduce any evidence at yesterday's hearing.

Solis sat quietly throughout the hour-long hearing, hugging his arms to his chest and staring at photographs of Thornton's body spread on the table before him and his attorneys.

Judge Joseph Gwaltney sent the case to the Arlington grand jury, which will review the evidence in June.

A 16-year-old Arlington youth also is charged with murder in the incident. A preliminary hearing for the youth is scheduled Friday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.