By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
Armando Barron, accused of murdering a Keene man in a jealous rage and then forcing his wife to cut the head off the victim’s corpse, wants to block prosecutors from using recordings of jail-house calls and visits at the upcoming murder trial.
Armando Barron, 31, has been held without bail since his arrest in September of 2020. His wife, Britany Barron, 32, pleaded guilty last year to charges of destroying evidence for her role in the murder of Jonathan Amerault. Armando Barron has been charged with capital murder. The couple lived in Jaffrey.
Armando Barron’s lawyer, Meredith Lugo, filed several motions in the Cheshire Superior Court this week in the case, though nearly all of them were filed under seal. The motion to exclude the phone calls is the only one publicly available. Lugo did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the motion, prosecutors with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office have copies of the recordings made of all of Armando Barron’s jail-house calls and visits, which is standard procedure. Lugo wrote that she was recently informed that the state has been translating Armando Barron’s conversations from Spanish to English, and that the state plans to use an undisclosed number of the conversations as evidence in the case.
Lugo writes that the state is not telling her which calls are going to be used as evidence, and it is not telling her what Armando Barron or his visitors said during those conversations. Lugo argues that whatever was said cannot be used at trial unless Armando Barron himself commented directly on the case.
“(T)he mere facts that Mr. Barron has made phone calls and participated in visits while incarcerated does not render the recordings of the calls and visits admissible,” Lugo wrote.
Even if Armando Barron did not say anything about the case, whatever his visitors and callers said in the recording cannot be used either, Lugo writes.
“The statements are hearsay; simply because the other party is the recipient of a phone call from the defendant or attends a visit with him does not make their party’s statements admissible,” she wrote.
Amerault was 25 when Armando Barron beat, tortured, and then shot him to death at Annett Wayside Park in Rindge after he discovered that his wife, Britany Barron, had started pursuing Amerault, according to court records.
Amerault was an engineer at Teleflex in Jaffrey, a biomedical company, where he worked with Britany Barron. As Britany Barron was seeking to get out of her marriage to the controlling Armando Barron, she started pursuing a texting relationship with Jonathan, according to court records. Before the relationship could go anywhere, Armando Barron found the texts and made murderous choices, according to court records.
Before Armando Barron allegedly murdered Jonathan Amerault, he savagely beat his wife and even put a loaded gun in her mouth, according to court records.
After he beat his wife, Armando Barron used her phone to lure Jonathan Amerault to Rindge, according to court records. There, at Annett Wayside Park, Armando Barron beat and tortured Amerault, at times trying to force his wife to hurt or kill Amerault, which she refused. At one point, both Amerault and Britany Barron were alone in a car, and she was armed with a machete.
“Jonathan pleaded for the defendant to ‘pick up the machete and kill him [referring to Mr. Barron].’ Jonathan told her, ‘Just pick up the machete and kill him.’ Britany told Jonathan, ‘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,’” according to court records.
Amerault had begged for his life when Armando Barron brandished a gun, according to an interview Britany Barron gave, part of court records.
“[Mr. Barron] beat the hell out of this kid . . . He punched him. [Jonathan] fell. And then he just started kicking him and kicking him and kicking him . . . In his back. In his – Anywhere. Anywhere. He didn’t care. He was just kicking this guy. He stomped on his face,” she told investigators.
In the following moments, Armando Barron ordered his wife to shoot Amerault, and she refused. Instead, according to court records, she stood on Amerault’s neck, putting the full force of her weight down in an unsuccessful attempt to strangle him. Armando Barron then gave his wife a knife and told her to slit Amerault’s wrists. That failed to kill Amerault and Armando Barron then allegedly assaulted him with the machete, Britany Barron told investigators.
“Throughout the assaults, the attempted strangulation, and the cutting of his wrists, Jonathan never lost consciousness,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati wrote in one previously filed motion. “According to (Britany Barron,) ‘That’s the worst part. Like, he was awake for everything.’”
Armando Barron put Jonathan Amerault in the trunk of Amerault’s Subaru, and shot him three times, according to court records. Armando Barron next ordered his wife to drive the Subaru to their Jaffrey home, where they retrieved camping gear. On that drive and at her house, Britany Barron told police she could hear Amerault’s moans.
“While loading the camping gear into the car, (Britany Barron) heard Jonathan moaning in the back of his car. According to the defendant, ‘He was just going, ‘Ugh, Ugh, Ugh,’ over and over again,” Agati wrote.
At the time, Britany Barron had the loaded gun her husband used in the murder, according to court records. He had put it in her backpack as they got ready to drive north.
The couple then drove separate cars four hours north to Errol where they stopped at a general store and Armando Barron bought cleaning supplies, according to court records. Driving further, they got to the remote campsite where Armando Barron burned Amerault’s I.D. and other documents, and ordered his wife to clean the car, according to court records.
They then drove further into the woods, damaging Amerault’s car in the process. At this second campsite, Armando Barron ordered his wife to cut off Amerault’s head with a saw, and then he left her to hide the body, according to court records.
When Amerault’s mother reported her son missing, police learned that Britany Barron had suddenly called her work and announced she quit and was moving away. When investigators talked to her in-laws, they told police she had gone away camping, Agati said in court. In both instances, Armando Barron had told his wife and parents what to say, Agati said.
Some hunters in the Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant had come across Britany Barron and told her she was trespassing and that she was in danger from bears. Her campsite was close to a bear baiting site, according to court records. The hunters contacted New Hampshire Fish and Game, and two conservation officers went into the woods to find her.
“I’m in big trouble,” Britany Barron reportedly told the officers when they found her.
Britany Barron was sentenced to three and a half to seven years in prison, with two years suspended from the minimum and maximum sentences. She also got 377 days credit for time already served, meaning she could be released this year. She will also have two three and a half to seven years sentences suspended for 10 years.