Attorneys for Armando Barron, the Jaffrey man accused of murdering Jonathan Amerault this summer, continue to push for the court to schedule an in-person probable cause hearing, while the state requests more time to deal with mountains of evidence.
Barron has been charged with capital murder for allegedly shooting Amerault to death on Sept. 19 or Sept. 20 at Annett State Park in Rindge and attempting to dispose of his body at a campsite in northern New Hampshire.
Meredith Lugo, Barron’s attorney, filed for a second time requesting an in-person probable cause hearing, citing the state’s “continued failure” to provide the defense with discovered evidence in the case.
“Mr. Barron has been in custody for nearly three months,” Lugo wrote in court filings requesting a probable cause hearing. “...On information and belief, a significant amount of discovery has been obtained by the investigating agencies and not provided to the defendant. This is further grounds for a probable cause hearing.”
The prosecution has objected to Lugo’s filing for a probable cause hearing, citing an “overwhelming” amount of evidence it has had to sort through.
The state has provided the defense with hundreds of pages and thousands of images and hours of recorded interviews, according to a filing submitted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati.
The state also provided the defense with a “substantial” amount of new evidence on Dec. 23, which was received by the state on Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, including new reports, images, and reports from the Chief Medical Examiner.
“To-date, the Department of Justice has provided the defendant with all of the discovery in its possession. While the State does anticipate additional discovery, e.g. forensic testing results, including cellphone analysis and other outstanding investigative reports, the State believes the defendant has the majority of the discovery in this case,” Agati wrote.
The court has already granted the state prosecution an extension of the statutory discovery deadline, granting an additional 45 days on Nov. 6, bringing the deadline to Dec. 21. During a dispositional conference for Barron on Nov. 12, the state informed the court it would likely require at least until late January to ensure all discovery had been provided.
The prosecution is requesting the court to clarify whether it will set an extension for further evidence discovery.
The state has already prepared and provided 45 pages of copies of arrest and search warrants, as well as 28 hours of recorded interviews and nearly 7,000 photographs of the crime scene, cellphone records and medical records to the defense.
However, as of Dec. 21, the state is pouring through additionally received evidence, including more than 1,100 pages of reports and more images, which it is in the process of preparing to be provided to the defense as evidence.
In addition to the evidence it currently has, the state is also anticipating further evidence to be forthcoming, including more reports and digital copies of cellphone records and phone contents. Forensic processing is still in progress for some evidence.
“The defendant’s crimes spanned across the State, from Cheshire County to the Main and Canadian borders, with evidence in various locations, and, in some case, various states of destruction. There were multiple crime scenes processed in both Cheshire and Coos counties, numerous hours of interviews conducted, and extensive evidence collected…Diligently gathering these materials continues to be an active and ongoing priority for the State as it has since the discovery of the defendant’s crimes,” the state wrote in its request to clarify the court’s extension of discovery deadlines.
In addition to the far-flung nature of the crime and disposal site, the state also contended that COVID-19 has slowed down the investigation, including requiring some first responders who have been working on the case being quarantined since the start of the investigation.
In its request, the prosecution also requested that the court extend the state’s discovery deadlines until Jan. 29, and the indictment deadline until the end of February.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.