dispute

With the prosecution eyeing a late 2021 trial date and no plea deal yet on the table, the attorney for a Jaffrey woman charged with falsifying evidence in a local murder case is pushing for his client to be released on bail.

Britany Barron, 31, has been been behind bars since late September, after discussing with authorities her role in the murder that month of Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene. According to police records, Barron said she participated in dismembering and concealing Amerault’s body, and also attempting to hide his vehicle, on orders from her husband, Armando Barron.

During a dispositional hearing Monday morning in Coos County Superior Court, held via teleconference, Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati explained that the prosecution had not been able to offer Britany Barron a plea deal yet, because of delays in getting certain pieces of evidence processed.

Noting that the lags are due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a high volume of discovery material, he said that a plea agreement would likely be forthcoming within a couple of weeks. If no deal is reached, the prosecution is proposing a December trial date.

“We are still in the process of getting the last of our discovery and all of our test results back from the lab,” Agati said. “We have not been able to do so, and that has led to this slight delay.”

However, defense attorney Richard Guerriero objected to waiting that long to begin a trial, unless a bail hearing is set soon for his client.

Guerriero filed a Jan. 24 bail motion requesting that Barron be released on home confinement in Grafton County, where she would maintain a residence, to await the conclusion of her case. Both she and Armando Barron, 31, have been incarcerated since their arrests, Britany Barron at the Grafton County jail and him at the Cheshire County jail.

“If the situation is she sits in jail until December, that’s a worse punishment than she’d receive if convicted,” Guerriero argued, adding that he’d be more in favor of waiting until December for the trial if bail is set.

According to her account to police, as detailed in an affidavit filed in court, Britany Barron was not a willing participant in Amerault’s murder and said it was her husband who fatally shot Amerault after luring him to Annett State Park in Rindge during the overnight hours between Sept. 19 and 20.

She alleges that her husband beat her severely just before the murder, after he learned that she and Amerault were having an affair. Her mug shot from her Sept. 24 arrest shows significant bruising on her face.

Britany Barron told police that immediately after Amerault was murdered, she drove his vehicle, with her husband following in his own vehicle, north to an unincorporated area of Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant, N.H. State Police Sgt. Stephen Sloper wrote in an affidavit. This is where N.H. Fish and Game officers discovered Amerault’s body on Sept. 22. Britany Barron was present at the scene, while Armando Barron had returned to Jaffrey, Sloper wrote.

At past court appearances, Guerriero has argued that Britany Barron is also a victim in this case, and that she acted as she did only to avoid further harm from her husband. In her statement to police, Britany Barron alleged her husband ordered her to shoot Amerault, but she was unable to do so.

The prosecution, however, said she had multiple opportunities to seek help and try to get away from her husband, such as when they took separate cars to drive north.

Coos County Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein said a hearing for Britany Barron will be scheduled after Feb. 8, and attorneys agreed that one month would be enough time to present her with a plea agreement and give her an opportunity to consider it.

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson