Man convicted of first degree murder in beheading case
CONCORD, NH — A jury on Thursday convicted a New Hampshire man of first-degree murder for killing his wife’s colleague after finding out they were texting and then forcing her to behead him.
Armando Barron, 32, faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He was also found guilty of assaulting his wife, Britany Barron, the night he discovered she had been texting his colleague, 25-year-old Jonathan Amerault. Prosecutors said he used his cell phone to lure her to a park just north of the Massachusetts state line in September 2020. Barron was also convicted of beating and kicking foot in Amerault, forcing him into his own car and shooting him.
Amerault’s mother was in the courtroom and began to cry as the verdict was read. The jury had the case for just under two hours.
“The defendant had every reason to kill Jonathan, because for him, Jonathan was a man who had just started seeing his wife,” prosecutor Benjamin Agati said during the closing arguments. “A man who, according to his wife, looked like an Abercrombie model, a man who was at his workplace and who he now knew was talking to his wife behind his back. The man he immediately saw like a rival.
In closing arguments, Barron’s attorney said Britany’s testimony was contradicted by physical evidence and she had motive to lie, while a prosecutor said she had told the truth and feared for his life.
Barron had pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyers maintain that his wife shot Amerault, which she denies.
His lawyer, Meredith Lugo, said the “prime example” of Britany’s unsupported testimony was her description of how Armando fired that last bullet into the hatchback. She said he was back in the passenger seat, with Amerault in the back and his head against the tailgate door.
Lugo said the shot could not have been inflicted that way, noting that the state’s chief medical examiner said the bullet was fired at close range.
“If Britany isn’t being honest with you about it, what else isn’t she telling you?” Lugo said.
Agati said Amerault died trying to save himself, heading towards Armando as the shot was fired. He had tried to protect himself when a previous bullet had gone through his arm and had other defensive wounds on his arms and hands. His feet were close to a machete on the ground and the door handles of the car.
“To believe that during this shoot Jonathan sat there is not reasonable,” Agati said.
Britany, 33, testified that after Amerault was shot, she was forced to drive the car 200 miles (322 kilometers) north to a remote campsite, with Armando driving right behind her and talking to her on the phone most of the time. There, she says, she was forced to behead Amerault. Her husband eventually left her at the scene, telling her to dispose of the body, she testified.
Lugo said Britany is “very capable of lying whenever she wants”, noting that when she was approached at the campsite by agents from the state Department of Fish and Game, she told them that she was there “clearing her head” after a fight with a girlfriend at a party.
Eventually, officers noticed something covered in a tarp that turned out to be Amerault’s car. She was arrested and brought to the police.
“But of course she cooperated at that time,” Lugo said. “She had a story she was selling and she needed them to believe it,” portraying herself as the victim.
Agati said the balance Britany must have had to make, “believing her own life was lost, juxtaposed with her need to return home to the girls she had almost literally been driven away from, the relationship she had been in for 14 years of marriage”, must be taken into account by the jurors.
Britany Barron pleaded guilty last year to three counts of tampering with evidence and was paroled last month.
The Associated Press had not named the couple so as not to identify Britany Barron, who said she suffered extreme abuse. Through her lawyer, she recently agreed to the use of her name.