Britany Barron takes stand in Armando Barron's murder trial

By PAUL CUNO-BOOTH

Granite State News Collaborative

Published: 05-19-2022 11:57 AM

Editor’s note: This story includes descriptions of violence, including domestic assault.

In hours of testimony Wednesday, Britany Barron said her husband, Armando Barron, brutally assaulted her, ordered her to kill a coworker, Jonathan Amerault, and shot Amerault himself when she refused.

Armando Barron, 32, is on trial for first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault and soliciting murder and assault in the September 2020 killing of Amerault, a 25-year-old Keene resident who worked as an engineer at Teleflex Medical in Jaffrey. Armando Barron also faces multiple domestic-violence charges.

Prosecutors say he flew into a jealous rage on learning his wife was flirting with Amerault, then lured him to a state park in Rindge and killed him there. Armando Barron’s attorneys have alleged Britany Barron was the killer, not her husband. 

Amerault was missing for days before authorities found his remains at a campsite in a wooded area in northern New Hampshire. Britany Barron said she removed Amerault’s head from his body and concealed his corpse on her husband’s orders. She pleaded guilty last year to three counts of falsifying physical evidence and is currently on parole.

Taking the stand on the second day of testimony in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene, Britany Barron, 33, described a horrific chain of events, at times crying so hard she could barely speak.

She grew up in Las Cruces, N.M., and she and Armando Barron began dating in high school, marrying as teenagers, she said. They moved to New Hampshire in 2014 and were living with their three children in Jaffrey at the time Amerault was killed.

She said they were experiencing marital trouble, which she did not specify. In September 2020, she told her husband she wanted a divorce. 

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She said he choked her until she lost consciousness, then slapped her when she came to.

Around that time, she and Amerault began talking and exchanging messages. She knew him from Teleflex, where she worked as a machine operator, and had nicknamed him “Abercrombie” because she thought he looked like a model. They kissed twice, she said, recalling Amerault as kind and funny. 

“Seeing his personality outside of work, I was like, ‘You’re really cool,’” she said, tearing up. “‘You’re a really cool guy.’”

The night of Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, she said Armando Barron found Snapchat messages between her and Amerault on her phone. 

She said Armando Barron grabbed her by the neck, slammed her to the ground and started choking her. At some point, he brought her into the bedroom, struck her repeatedly in the face and put a handgun in her mouth, she said. 

“You know you’re gonna die tonight, right?” she recalled her husband saying.

He then drove the two of them to Annett Wayside Park in Rindge, she said, repeatedly striking her in the face along the way.

At the park, Armando Barron used her phone to message Amerault, posing as her and asking him to meet, she said. When he arrived, Britany Barron testified, Armando Barron hit him, kicked him and stomped on his face.

She said her husband put the gun in her hand, with his hand over hers, and ordered her to shoot. She refused, she said. 

He then told her to step on Amerault’s neck, which she did until he jerked away, she said. She said she also cut Amerault’s wrists with a knife on her husband’s orders.

Armando Barron then shot Amerault three times while they were in Amerault’s Subaru, Britany Barron said.

Armando Barron had her drive north in Amerault’s car, with his body still in it, while he followed in their Jeep, she said. He berated her on the phone the whole way, she said.

When they arrived in Errol, in the far north of the state, Armando Barron stopped at a store for supplies, telling her to drive to a nearby location and wait, she said.

Asked by Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati why she didn’t drive away, Britany Barron said there were few places to go in that remote locale, and she feared her husband would track her down and kill her.

“I wasn’t gonna test him,” she said. “I knew what he had just done, what I had just witnessed, what I had just been through myself. At that point, I was gonna do exactly what this man says.” 

They drove into Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant, a wooded area north of Errol, and set up a tent, she said. Over the next few days, she said, Armando Barron came and went, issuing her directives to destroy or conceal evidence, including standing over her as she removed Amerault’s head from his body.

“He said I needed to have Jonathan’s body buried by Tuesday afternoon,” she testified. “And then he said he was gonna bring the girls on Friday so I could give them a hug and a kiss, and I could tell them that I love them. And then he said, ‘You know you’re not coming home with us, right? You’re gonna stay here. You’re not coming home with us.’”

Alerted by bear hunters who had seen the camp, two New Hampshire Fish and Game officers found Britany Barron there that Tuesday.

Prosecutors showed the jury photos of Britany Barron taken over the next several days, which showed injuries including a wound on her scalp, a black eye and swelling on her face.

During opening arguments Tuesday, Morgan Taggart-Hampton, a lawyer for Armando Barron, admitted to some of the assault charges, but denied her client shot Amerault, put a gun in his wife’s mouth or ordered her to hurt Amerault.

“Only Britany knows why she did those things,” Taggart-Hampton said, arguing Britany Barron framed herself as a victim to avoid prosecution for the murder and saying she fired the fatal shot.

On Wednesday, Taggart-Hampton’s colleague, Meredith Lugo, briefly began cross-examining Britany Barron before the trial ended for the day, suggesting there were points at which she could have driven away or called someone.

Barron’s testimony took most of the day. Before she was called, jurors heard from the two bear hunters who came across the campsite up north and Sgt. Thomas Bishop of the Jaffrey Police Department, who helped look for Amerault and Britany Barron after they were reported missing.

Britany Barron’s testimony is expected to continue Thursday. The trial is scheduled through June 3.

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