Jaffrey man, charged with capital murder, wants court to order evidence preserved

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KEENE, NH – The man charged with capital murder in the kidnapping, shooting and decapitation of Jonathan Amerault, 25, appeared in a Cheshire County courtroom Tuesday for a hearing on motions concerning the preservation of evidence and the return of property.

Armando Barron

Armando Barron, 30, of Jaffrey, currently held without bail in the Cheshire County House of Corrections, is charged with capital murder in the Sept. 19 overnight shooting death of Amerault, his wife Brittany’s lover, during the commission of a kidnapping; second-degree assault, domestic violence, for the alleged beating of his wife; criminal threatening and simple assault, both involving his wife.

Britany Barron, 31, of Jaffrey also was arrested on charges of three counts of falsifying physical evidence in conjunction with Amerault’s murder for altering, destroying, concealing or removing items of physical evidence. According to court documents, Barron beat her, put a gun in her mouth, chipping a tooth, and then choked her to the point of unconsciousness before kidnapping Amerault and ordering his wife to shoot him.  She refused so Barron allegedly shot him twice in the chest and once in the head.  He then ordered his battered wife to decapitate Amerault, an order she obeyed.

Tuesday’s hearing before Cheshire County Superior Court Judge David Ruoff mainly involved defense attorney Meredith Lugo’s motion to preserve evidence in the case including all field and interview notes, other documentation including electronic; all physical and trace evidence; all photo, video and cell phone evidence; audio tapes; witness statements.

The defense said the evidence should not only be preserved, but also any testing should not be completed that would consume the entire sample absent prior authorization from the court.  She asked that the state get court approval before any evidence could be destroyed or consumed in testing.

She said when the state fails to preserve or loses evidence in a criminal case, the accused’s rights to due process and to present all proof favorable to him may be violated.   

Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati and Assistant Attorney General Scott D. Chase objected to the defense’s motion.  Chase said the state has already advised its lead investigator to instruct all officers and criminalists involved in the case to preserve the evidence requested by the defense.  The state, he said, will continue to make every effort to preserve the evidence in the case.

What the state objects to, Chase said, is the defense’s attempt to control the manner in which the state proceeds with its investigation by seeking to prevent and slow down the processing of evidence.

Chase said the case and discovery process has slowed because some investigators are in quarantine or have contracted COVID-19.  The lead investigator, he said, is in quarantine but is expected back next week. 

Chase said the investigation is a complicated one with multiple crime scenes that cross the state.  He said numerous swabs for potential biological evidence were taken by investigators. It has yet to be determined if DNA is present and, if so, whether it belongs to the defendant, the victim or someone else, according to Chase.  

Amerault was reported missing on Monday, Sept. 20. He didn’t show up for work at Teleflex Medical OEM in Jaffrey, where Brittany Barron also worked.

 Barron found out about the affair after looking at his wife’s cell phone which resulted in the alleged attack on his wife and the subsequent kidnapping of Amerault.  Investigators said Baron used his wife’s phone to lure Amerault to Annette Wayside Park in Rindge in the overnight hours between Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, where he killed him.  They used Amerault’s car to drive 200 miles to the North Country.

At an Erroll campsite, Barron ordered his battered wife to decapitate Amerault and bury the head and body separately.

Barron left his wife with two guns, including the one used to kill Amerault, to protect herself from wildlife saying he would return later.

Two hunters saw Britany Barron at the campsite after Barron left and told her she wasn’t allowed to camp there.  They called New Hampshire Fish and Game to report the incident and two conservation officers went to the camp, discovered Amerault’s vehicle hidden under a tarp and documented Britany Barron’s black eyes and bruised neck.  She was taken into custody.

Barron was arrested on Sept. 28.

An autopsy two days later determined Amerault died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Judge Ruoff said he would issue an order in the case as soon as possible.

Agati informed the court that the Attorney General’s Office would be taking over the prosecution of the domestic violence charges against Barron which are currently being handled by the Cheshire County Attorney’s office.