Lawyers debate evidence as Armando Barron murder trial approaches

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey appears in the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene  with his public defender Morgan Taggart-Hampton on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Judge Elizabeth Leonard presides over the hearing on several motions in the case of Armando Barron of Jaffrey, who is accused of murdering Keene resident Jonathan Amerault in 2020. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey appears in the Cheshire County Superior Court  in Keene with his public defender Morgan Taggart-Hampton on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey appears in the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene with his public defender Morgan Taggart-Hampton Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/6/2022 11:18:04 AM
Modified: 4/6/2022 11:17:26 AM

With jury selection slated for next month in the murder trial of Armando Barron of Jaffrey, who allegedly beat, shot and killed Keene resident Jonathan Amerault in September 2020, attorneys on both sides are finalizing arguments on what evidence will be put before the court.

Barron appeared in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene Tuesday for hearings on multiple motions having to do with the evidence that could be presented at his trial, scheduled to begin in May.

Barron is charged with capital murder, first-degree murder, multiple counts of assault in both the first and second degree, criminal solicitation of murder, kidnapping and multiple domestic violence charges.

The state alleges that after finding text messages that revealed his wife, Britany Barron, was in a romantic relationship with her co-worker, Amerault, Barron beat his wife, choked her, put a gun in her mouth and threatened her before using her phone to lure Amerault to Annett Wayside Park in Rindge.

Barron allegedly then beat Amerault, forced his wife to step on his neck and cut his wrists with a machete and attempted to force her to shoot Amerault. When she refused, Barron allegedly forced Amerault into the back of Amerault’s own vehicle and shot him multiple times, ultimately leading to his death.

Britany Barron has pled guilty to charges of falsifying evidence and accepted a plea deal for actions she took following the murder to attempt to cover up the crime. She was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.

During court on Tuesday, attorneys for both Barron’s defense and the prosecution discussed multiple pieces of potential evidence, and whether they would be allowed to be introduced at trial.

One of the issues discussed was jail cell calls made by Barron between his arrest shortly after Amerault’s death and the present day, as he remains incarcerated. There are up to 3,000 to 4,000 calls made from Barron, many of them in Spanish, which would need to be translated for use by either the defense or the prosecution.

Barron’s defense counsel, Meredith Lugo, said to date, the defense has only received translated transcripts on a small handful of those calls, most made very shortly after Barron’s arrest in 2020. Lugo said it was not “fair or reasonable” to expect the defense to comb through the entire volume of calls searching for any that the prosecution might use, especially with the trial expected to begin next month.

Prosecutor and New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said the defense was receiving translations as they were received by the prosecution, and that the process for accessing translations had to be done through federal investigative resources, or private services which would not be able to provide the translations in a timely manner.

Agati said the prosecution did not intend to submit the calls into evidence, but that he could not rule out using them until he had heard the translations. He said translations of any calls he wished to enter would be provided to the court and the defense as he received them.

On another point, Lugo argued against the inclusion of other instances of domestic violence, in particular one that allegedly took place a few days before Amerault’s murder, and details of the relationship between Barron and his wife.

The state argued the alleged incident of domestic violence which took place about a week before Amerault’s murder was over Britany Barron asking for a divorce, and played into Barron’s motive in allegedly killing Amerault.

“These are not actions taken in a vacuum,” Agati said.

The court also heard arguments regarding the possible admission of social media statements. Agati said the state did not have enough context on the content of the posts to make an argument for or against their inclusion. Lugo agreed to provide copies of the post to both the court and the prosecution.

Agati also argued it could be important to understand the nature of the relationship between Britany and Armando Barron if the defense challenged Britany’s credibility on the stand, and particularly the amount of time between Amerault’s murder and her confession to law enforcement.

Lugo argued that as an alleged incident of domestic violence happened immediately prior to the alleged murder, and was included in Armando Barron’s charges, it was not necessary to bring up past incidents, and that any benefit the prosecution would gain would be outweighed by the potential prejudicial effect it could have on the jury.

The court closed the hearing for arguments on other motions considered protected. Judge Elizabeth Leonard did not render any judgments on the motions in the public portion of the hearing.

Barron is expected back in Cheshire County Superior Court on April 22 for final pretrial and arraignment.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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