This 2020 booking photo provided by the Cheshire County Department of Corrections shows Armando Barron. Barron faces trial Monday May 16, 2022 in Keene, N.H. on charges of killing his wife's male co-worker after he discovered they were texting, and then forcing her to behead him after she drove with the body for 200 miles to a remote campsite. The Associated Press had not been naming the couple in order not to identify Britany Barron, who said she suffered extreme abuse. Through her lawyer, she recently agreed to the use of her name. (Cheshire County Department of Corrections via AP)
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KATHY McCORMACK Associated Press

A New Hampshire man was to stand trial Tuesday on charges of killing his wife’s co-worker after he discovered they were texting, and then forcing her to behead him after she drove with the body for 200 miles (320 kilometers) to a remote campsite.

Armando Barron, 32, and his wife, Britany Barron, 33, were teens when they got married and had three children, but their relationship was troubled and she wanted a divorce, according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege that Armando Barron used her cellphone to lure her co-worker, 25-year-old Jonathan Amerault, to a park just north of the Massachusetts state line one night in September 2020. There, he violently assaulted Amerault and tried to force his wife to shoot him, prosecutors allege. She refused. Armando Barron eventually forced Amerault into the back of the victim’s car, prosecutors said.

“Jonathan begged for his life,” prosecutors said in a court document.

Armando Barron allegedly shot Amerault three times in the car, police said. He’s pleaded not guilty and could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Britany Barron told police she was then forced to drive Amerault’s car, containing his body, for several hours to a campsite in northern New Hampshire, while her husband drove another vehicle. There, Armando Barron allegedly forced his wife to cut off Amerault’s head and bury it, and wrap the body in a tarp. He left her to dispose of the body and returned home, according to court documents.

“I’m in big trouble,” she told New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers who found her at the campsite two days later, according to a police affidavit. The officers found a headless body under a tarp.

Armando Barron also pleaded not guilty to charges of beating and threatening his wife by shoving a gun into her mouth. Police said she had bruises around her eyes and to her nose, marks on her neck, and a chipped tooth.

Britany Barron pleaded guilty last year to three counts of falsifying evidence and was released from jail on parole last month. She plans to testify against her husband and apologized to Amerault’s family during her sentencing.

The Associated Press had not been naming the couple in order not to identify Britany Barron, who said she suffered extreme abuse. Through her lawyer, she recently agreed to the use of her name.

Most of the documents in the case have been sealed. Attorneys spent the last week picking a jury. Prosecutor Benjamin Agati said he was unavailable to respond to an email with questions on the case and public defender Meredith Lugo did not respond.

Britany Barron told police around the time she was arrested that her husband, while going through her phone, discovered she was having an “extramarital affair” with Amerault, according to the affidavit. But that was not the case, Amerault’s family and attorneys said.

“All he did was respond to her text messages for eight days, during the last 10 days of his life,” Justine Amerault, Jonathan’s mother, said in an email to the AP.

Amerault, an engineer at the biomedical device company in Jaffrey where Britany Barron also worked, was an avid hiker who had summitted all but one of the 67 mountains in northern New England that are at least 4,000 feet (1,220 meters in elevation.

He had received honors for his volunteer work at the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley in Milford, New Hampshire, that he had attended in his youth, and later became a camp counselor. A granite bench in his memory was dedicated at the club.

Amerault had led the creation of a “Be Great” mural that hangs over the entrance.

“Throughout his life Jonathan was surrounded by hundreds of the most wholesome good people … coworkers, friends and family,” his mother wrote, adding, “it’s beyond comprehension that such a beautiful young man should die in the presence of two such filthy, evil creatures.”

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The Associated Press

The Associated Press (AP) is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.