Armando Barron found guilty of all charges

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey enters the courtroom in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene Thursday morning for closing arguments. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • The prosecution delivers its closing argument in Jaffrey resident Armando Barron's murder trial Thursday morning in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene. Shown on the screen in front of Barron is Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene. The jury convicted Barron, of Jaffrey, of murdering Amerault in September 2020. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey speaks with his defense attorney Meredith Lugo in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene Thursday afternoon, after the prosecution’s closing argument.  —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Judge Elizabeth Leonard listens as defense attorney Meredith Lugo approaches the bench with Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati and Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase, not pictured, after Lugo objected during the state’s closing argument in Armando Barron's murder trial Thursday morning in Cheshire County Superior Court. Following the objection, Leonard reminded the jury that the burden of proof in the trial lay solely with the state.  —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Judge Elizabeth Leonard reads the jury instructions following closing arguments in Jaffrey resident Armando Barron's murder trial in Cheshire County Superior Court. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati delivers the prosecution’s closing argument Thursday, showing various pieces of physical evidence and visual aids on the screen, in Jaffrey resident Armando Barron's murder trial in Cheshire County Superior Court. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati delivers the prosecution’s closing argument, showing various pieces of physical evidence and visual aids on the screen, during Armando Barron's murder trial Thursday in Cheshire County Superior Court. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

  • Judge Elizabeth Leonard looks on while Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati delivers the prosecution’s closing argument in Armando Barron's murder trial Thursday morning in Cheshire County Superior Court. —HANNAH SCHROEDER/KEENE SENTINEL

The Keene Sentinel
Published: 5/26/2022 6:05:17 PM

A Cheshire County jury Thursday found Armando Barron of Jaffrey guilty of all charges, including first-degree murder, related to the September 2020 killing of Jonathan Amerault of Keene.

First-degree murder carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Barron, 33, is scheduled to be sentenced on at least some of the charges Friday afternoon.

Thursday's verdict, which the jury delivered after less than two hours of deliberation, came more than a year-and-a-half after Amerault's body was found at a campsite in a wooded area in northern New Hampshire. An avid hiker, Amerault, 25, grew up in Milford and volunteered regularly at the Souhegan Valley Boys & Girls Club there. He worked as an engineer at Teleflex Medical in Jaffrey and had just bought a home in Keene.

Taking the witness stand for several hours last week, Armando Barron's wife Britany said her husband beat and choked her on the night of Sept. 19, 2020, after finding Snapchat messages between her and Amerault, her coworker. Later that night, she said, Armando Barron took her to Annett Wayside Park in Rindge and used her phone to lure Amerault there, while repeatedly hitting her in the face as he drove.

When Amerault arrived, Britany Barron said her husband assaulted him, put a gun in her hand and ordered her to shoot Amerault. After she refused, she testified that Armando told her to step on Amerault's neck and cut his wrists. Then she said Armando forced Amerault into the back of his own vehicle and shot him three times.

Britany Barron, 33, pleaded guilty in Grafton County Superior Court in September to three counts of falsifying evidence for her actions after Amerault's murder, and was granted parole last month. She testified during her husband's trial that they drove separate vehicles to a campsite north of Errol, where she removed Amerault's head from his body, dragged his corpse into the woods and helped conceal his car on her husband's orders — all while fearing for her life.

During opening arguments in Cheshire County Superior Court last week, Armando Barron's defense attorneys argued that Britany actually killed Amerault.

Public defender Morgan Taggart-Hampton said Armando Barron did not dispute several of the assault and domestic-violence charges he faced related to beating Britany and kicking Amerault in the head. But he denied charges that he put a gun in Britany’s mouth before they went to the park, or that he ordered her to hurt or kill Amerault.

In addition to murder, the jury found Armando Barron guilty of a slew of crimes, including two counts of solicitation of murder, two counts of solicitation of first-degree assault and three counts of domestic violence that allege he assaulted his wife and told her to harm Amerault. He was also convicted of kidnapping, reckless conduct and three counts of second-degree assault.

Asked whether the defense will file an appeal, Meredith Lugo, one of the public defenders representing Armando Barron, said “nothing has been decided, but I anticipate yes.”

She declined further comment.

During the defense's closing arguments Thursday morning, Lugo had sought to cast doubt on Britany Barron’s hours of testimony.

“Her claims are like something out of a TV movie — not real life,” Lugo said. “They’re sensationalized to make Armando seem like a monster and her a victim.”

The claims Britany Barron made in her testimony were contradicted by other evidence presented by the state, Lugo argued. She pointed to testimony by New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval, who determined Amerault’s death was homicide caused by a gunshot wound to the head that appeared to have been fired at close range.

This injury could not could not have been inflicted in the manner Britany Barron described, Lugo said.

Last week, Lugo highlighted the close range of the fatal shot when she asked Duval whether it could have been fired by someone in the front seat of a vehicle while Amerault was in the rear, hatchback portion of the car.

“Not if his head was up against the hatchback, no,” Duval said. “That would not be possible.”

Lugo alleged in closing arguments that after pulling the trigger, Britany Barron lied to protect herself from being charged with murder, blaming her husband instead. She said Britany Barron had opportunities to seek help or escape her husband after Amerault's killing.

Lugo also noted that Armando Barron's DNA was not found on any of the items tested during the investigation and said the prosecution's case relied heavily on Britany Barron's testimony.

"You have only Britany's word that it was Armando that shot Amerault," she said. "If that isn't reasonable doubt, then what is?"

But Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said in the prosecution’s closing arguments that Armando Barron established control from the moment he assaulted his wife after discovering the Snapchat messages — noting the defense had conceded to that assault — and forced her to the park where he lured Amerault.

Besides, Agati said, there was no evidence presented that Britany Barron had any motive to kill Amerault, and evidence provided by witnesses that include New Hampshire State Police officers corroborate parts of her testimony.

He said that Britany Barron left the house the night of the killing wearing slippers and pajama pants, while Armando Barron brought a gun, a machete and bags of concrete and topsoil.

“Three people went into the woods that night,” Agati said. “One was forced to go there after she was beaten … one was tricked into going in there where he was beaten … and one of them went there to hurt and kill.”

If Britany Barron had been attempting to protect herself from prosecution, she never would have told police she decapitated Amerault's body and would have instead said her husband did that, Agati asserted. She would not have admitted to stepping on Amerault’s neck on her husband’s orders and could not have known autopsy evidence would confirm that part of her story, he said.

As for the fatal shot, Agati said Amerault had likely been defending himself and had sat up in the hatchback in a last-ditch effort to either grab a machete that lay close to his feet or reach the door handle.

“To believe that during that shooting that Jon just sat there — that’s not reasonable,” Agati said.

Agati slammed his hand on the podium to simulate the noise of the three gunshots that Britany Barron testified her husband fired, noting the short time Amerault would have had to move around in between them. Duval, the medical examiner, said during her testimony last week that Amerault had gunshot wounds in both thighs, in his left arm and two in his head that could have been caused by three bullets.

The shot that killed him could have come as Amerault sat up to reach for the door handle or machete, Agati said.

“Jonathan died trying to save himself,” he said.

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


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