Troopers testify about store receipts, other evidence in Armando Barron's murder trial

  • In US
  • 2022-05-20 04:01:00Z
  • By The Keene Sentinel, N.H.

May 20-Editor's note: This story includes descriptions of violence, including domestic assault.

After hours on the witness stand Wednesday, Britany Barron concluded her testimony in about 15 minutes Thursday morning on the third day of the trial of her husband, Armando Barron, whom authorities allege murdered Keene resident Jonathan Amerault in September 2020.

After Britany's testimony Thursday, the first week of the trial concluded with several N.H. State Police troopers detailing evidence they collected in the case. This includes surveillance footage and receipts showing Armando Barron purchasing items such as a shovel, latex gloves and tarps at stores in Northern Coos County, near where authorities found Amerault's body, they said.

Armando Barron, 32, of Jaffrey, is charged with first-degree murder, which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole. His defense attorneys have argued that Britany, not Armando, killed Amerault, 25. But in her testimony Wednesday, Britany Barron said Armando assaulted her, told her to kill Amerault and shot Amerault himself when she refused, all after finding flirtatious text messages between the two of them.

Meredith Lugo, one of two public defenders representing Armando Barron, began Thursday's cross-examination by asking Britany Barron to specify the charges she faced in connection with Amerault's death.

Britany Barron, 33, pleaded guilty in Grafton County Superior Court in September to three counts of falsifying evidence - one for cleaning off Amerault's vehicle after the killing, one for wrapping his body in a tarp and a third for decapitating him after his death, all of which she said she did on her husband's orders. She was granted parole last month.

"You were not charged with assaulting Mr. Amerault," Lugo said to Britany Barron. "... You weren't charged with standing on his neck ... Not charged with slitting his wrists ... And you weren't charged with killing him."

"No I was not," Britany Barron responded to each of Lugo's statements.

After Lugo's questioning, Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati countered by asking Britany Barron if she was "familiar with the portion of the law that says that an act taken under duress is not a voluntary act." She said she had heard of this legal principle.

During her testimony Wednesday, Britany Barron said Armando brutally beat and choked her on the night of Saturday, Sept. 19, after finding Snapchat messages between her and Amerault, her coworker, on her phone. Later that night, she said Armando drove her to Annett Wayside Park in Rindge, repeatedly hitting her in the face as he drove.

Armando Barron messaged Amerault using Britany's phone to lure him to the park, she said. When Amerault arrived, Britany Barron said Armando hit and kicked him and stomped on his face. Her husband put the gun in her hand, and ordered her to shoot, she said, but she refused.

Armando then told her to step on Amerault's neck and she also cut Amerault's wrists with a knife on her husband's orders, she said. Armando Barron then shot Amerault three times, Britany Barron said Wednesday.

In addition to the murder charge, prosecutors have accused Armando Barron of a slew of crimes, including solicitation of murder, solicitation of first-degree assault and domestic-violence charges that allege he assaulted his wife and told her to harm Amerault. He also faces kidnapping, attempted murder, second-degree assault and reckless-conduct charges.

During opening arguments Tuesday, Armando Barron's other attorney, Morgan Taggart-Hampton, said he does not dispute several of the assault and domestic-violence charges related to beating Britany and kicking Amerault in the head. But he denies the charges that he put a gun in Britany's mouth, and ordered her to hurt or kill Amerault.

After Britany Barron's testimony Thursday, prosecutors called a trio of N.H. State Police troopers as witnesses, each of whom detailed their role in investigating Amerault's death.

Trooper Catherine Shackford of the major crimes unit testified about her initial interview with Britany Barron on Tuesday, Sept. 22, after hunters found her at a campsite earlier that day in Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant, a wooded area in far northern New Hampshire. Over the next three days, Shackford said Britany Barron assisted investigators in piecing together her and Armando Barron's movements following Amerault's killing.

That included stops Armando Barron made at several stores in Coos County in the days following Amerault's death, according to Shackford, who also testified about his receipts, and some accompanying security footage, from these stores. Among the items he purchased were a shovel, lined latex gloves, a 32-ounce bottle of lighter fluid and two tarps (one 10-by-12 feet, another 18-by-24), she said. On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Armando Barron also bought items including three 50-pound bags of quick-set concrete and seven bags of topsoil at a hardware store in Keene, Shackford testified, while prosecutors presented receipts and surveillance footage from that store.

Trooper Tara Elsemiller, who also works with the major crimes unit, then testified about her role as the evidence technician at two separate campsites north of Errol. Trooper Garrett Rella of N.H. State Police Troop F in Twin Mountain spoke about the process police undertook to search the two sites for evidence.

At one of these campsites, police found a pit where numerous articles that appeared to belong to Amerault - such as a credit card and auto insurance card - had been burned. At another, about a half-mile away, authorities found a camp where Britany Barron had been sleeping, and nearby, Amerault's body wrapped in a tarp, his head buried separately and his Subaru hatchback covered with a tarp and some branches, Elsemiller said.

Before proceedings began Thursday morning, Judge Elizabeth Leonard told the jury that one juror had been dismissed. Court officials did not specify why this person is no longer on the panel. Last week, before the trial started, attorneys whittled down a pool of 223 people to a jury of 16. Leonard will randomly select three alternates at the end of the trial, while the other 12 will deliberate and issue a verdict.

The trial will take a pre-planned break on Friday, with testimony set to resume Monday morning. Leonard told jurors to expect a full week of testimony next week. The trial is scheduled through June 3.

Reporters Ashley Saari of the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and Paul Cuno-Booth of the Granite State News Collaborative contributed to this story.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.


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