Barron bail request denied; state says wife had opportunities to thwart husband’s alleged murder coverup

  • Britany Barron Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/22/2021 5:17:31 PM

The Coos Superior Court has denied bail for the Jaffrey woman accused of helping her husband cover up the murder of her alleged lover.

On Monday, Judge Peter H. Bornstein denied a request submitted by Britany Barron of Jaffrey to be released on monitored bail conditions while awaiting trial for three counts of falsifying physical evidence for actions she allegedly took to cover up the murder of Jonathan Amerault. Barron’s husband, Armando Barron, is facing capital murder charges for allegedly shooting Amerault to death after discovering he and Britany were having an affair. 

Richard Guerrero, Britany’s attorney, argued she is a victim of domestic violence, and that she feared for her life during the commitment of her crimes, and was forced to contribute to the cover up by her abusive husband.

“She’s simply not a danger to the public,” Guerrero argued.

Several former co-workers who worked with both Britany Barron and Amerault have made statements that the relationship between the Barrons was abusive, Guerrero said, noting that Britany Barron had told them Armando Barron had struck her in the face when she asked for a divorce, that he drove her to and from work, was “very controlling” and “very possessive” and didn’t allow her to interact with people outside of work.

Both Bornstein and prosecuting attorney Scott Chase acknowledged that Britany Barron was viciously assaulted by her husband prior to the murder, and that she was acting under duress during the murder at Rindge’s Annett State Forest wayside park; however, Bornstein was unconvinced that Britany didn’t have other options during the several days she was left alone with Amerault’s body.

The “circumstances and nature” of the actions Britany Barron took to cover up the crime, including removing Amerault’s head, was sufficient to demonstrate Britany Barron’s potential danger to the public, Bornstein said.

Britany Barron requested to be released on bail with an electronic monitor and to court-appointed housing, arguing she herself was acting only under duress from her husband.

The prosecution acknowledged that Armando Barron assaulted his wife after learning of her affair, and that there were mitigating circumstances to some of her actions during the crime, but have objected to that request for bail. There were several points after the crime where she had opportunities to alert authorities, and did not, the prosecution argued.

“The defendant is not charged with murdering Jonathan Amerault. The defendant is charged with falsifying physical evidence for her efforts in destroying, altering or concealing Jonathan’s car, body, and decapitated head, all of which was evidence of his murder,” prosecutors Benjamin J. Agati and Scott Chase wrote in their objection to the request for bail. “While she did not murder Jonathan, she desecrated his body and destroyed evidence – even when presented with a multitude of opportunities to make reasonable alternative choices that did not involve committing crimes or endangering her own safety. The defendant has demonstrated that she presents a significant threat to the public based upon the lengths she was willing to go in order to conceal one of the most serious crimes in New Hampshire, the murder of another person.”

During Monday’s hearing, Chase said the state had factored the assault and duress into the charges leveled at Britany Barron.

Chase said that the same night Armando Barron lured Amerault to the park, he also attempted to lure another co-worker of Britany’s to the same park, and that she had reason to believe he would have also killed her other co-worker. When she did not alert authorities the moment it was safe to do so, she continued to put the general public, as well as a specific person, in continued danger, Chase argued.

Prosecutors argue that while there may have been moments where Britany Barron had legitimate fear for her life, “there were no imminent threats of death or serious bodily injury at the time she committed the charged conduct.”

According to the state’s objection to the bail motion, when Amerault arrived at the park, Britany Barron was seated in the driver’s side of the vehicle, while her husband, armed with a gun and machete, hid behind their car. The prosecution argues that Britany Barron did not make any attempt to alert Amerault to the danger of his situation as he approached the car.

Armando Barron allegedly assaulted Amerault, kicking him and stomping on his face, Britany Barron told police. Armando Barron allegedly ordered his wife to shoot Amerault, which she refused to do, and then to stand on his throat.

According to the court filings, Britany told police she put her “full body weight” on Amerault’s neck “for so long,” but Amerault did not lose consciousness. Armando  then allegedly forced Amerault into the back of his own vehicle.

Britany also, allegedly at her husband’s order, used a knife to cut Amerault’s wrists.

At one point, she was left alone with Amerault in the car, and had access to a machete that Armando Barron left in the vehicle.

Amerault allegedly told Britany to use the machete to kill Armando. She told police she had responded, “You don’t understand, man. I’m not going to kill him with that blow, and we’re both going to die in this car.”

Armando allegedly returned to the car, and shot Amerault three times, then ordered Britany to drive Amerault’s vehicle to Jaffrey and pack camping gear.

While loading the camping gear, Britany told police that Amerault was moaning in the back of the vehicle, making unintelligible sounds, which stopped soon after.

Britany was left alone at one point as Armando stopped for gas and directed her to park down the road.

The two drove in separate vehicles, with Britany driving Amerault’s vehicle, to Errol, at times communicating by phone. Britany was again left alone parked at the Lake Umbagog canoe launch in Errol while Armando purchased supplies at the L.L. Cote’s General Store before traveling to a campsite off a logging road in Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant.

Armando was present for some acts of falsifying the evidence of the crime, including decapitating Amerault’s remains and burying his head in a hole, disposing of Amerault’s cell phone and burning his personal belongings.

At one point, Armando left the campsite to return to Jaffrey for additional supplies, leaving Britany at the camp with a 9 mm handgun.

“Notably, Mr. Barron was hours away when the defendant hid and camouflaged Jonathan’s car, wrapped Jonathan’s body in a tarp with rope, dragged his body into the woods, dumped his body into a brook, and ‘popped a hole’ in the tarp because she saw it was ‘puffing up’ with air when she pushed him into the water,” Agati and Chase wrote.

While Britany was left alone with Amerault’s remains for a long period of time, Guerrero argued, Armando had initially tested his wife by telling her he was leaving and would return Friday, but actually returning an hour later.

“She was constantly in fear when she was there,” Guerrero said.

On the Tuesday following the murder, while alone at the campsite, Britany Barron had a conversation with a group of hunters who found the camp. Despite being alone at the site at the time, Britany Barron did not make an effort to alert the hunters of what was happening, according to the prosecutors.

She also did not initially request assistance when confronted about her campsite by two Fish and Game officers, until they had found evidence of the crime themselves.

“The defendant had an abundance of reasonable, and lawful alternative steps between Jaffrey and the Atkinson Grant that she could have safely chosen to avoid destroying evidence and desecrating Jonathan’s body,” Agati and Chase argue. “She had opportunities where she was separate from Mr. Barron, armed with a loaded handgun, a working cell phone, and a car. She had opportunities to let bystanders, like the hunters, know that she needed help and that a crime had been committed. She had the opportunity to report to two uniformed and armed conservation officers of the defendant’s crimes and that she needed help. At no point did she take any of those reasonable, lawful alternative steps.”

Guerrero said Britany has the mindset of a domestic violence victim, which must be taken into account. She did not immediately disclose the situation to law enforcement, Guerrero said, but did so as soon as she felt “safe,” and since that point, made a full confession without requesting a lawyer or maintaining her right to silence.

The prosecution argued that while Britany’s three children reside in New Hampshire, she has other family in New Mexico, and currently no employment or other strong ties to the area, and argued that constituted a flight risk.

Ultimately, Bornstein agreed with the prosecution that while falsifying physical evidence is not an inherently violent crime, the circumstances of this crime were indeed violent, and that Britany Barron did not act on the “numerous off-ramps” available to her; he denied the request for bail.

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