A man who two years ago told police a robber killed his wife and wounded him on a beach in a state park was arrested Friday, accused of murdering her and shooting himself four times for $2.1 million in life insurance.
Justin Barber, 32, was jailed without bond after being indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of April Barber, 27, at Guana State Park in August 2002.
St. Johns County Sheriff Neil Perry said the motive was a life insurance policy worth more than $2.1 million, along with infidelity on the part of the husband. Perry said Barber has not collected any of the money.
"He and only he was there at the time April Barber was murdered," Perry said at a news conference.
Barber told detectives that he and his wife were walking on the beach around 11 p.m. when a man came up and asked them for cash. Barber said a struggle followed and that the man shot he and his wife.
She was found dead with a single gunshot wound; Barber suffered four slight wounds, investigators said.
Barber drove himself about 12 miles north on State Road A1A where he alerted a passing motorist who called police.
Deputies searched the area for days looking for evidence. Several months ago, police announced Barber as the prime suspect in his wife's death and officers returned to the scene looking for new evidence in the case.
Capt. Chuck West said investigators were able to recreate every step of the day of the killing.
"We believe it was all planned out," he said. He said April Barber suspected her husband was being unfaithful, which created tension between the couple.
"This type of crime is not unheard of ..." West said. "In all of these cases a spouse shoots the other and then themselves to cover it up, usually for insurance purposes."
"This has been one of the most difficult and complicated murders that I have seen in my career," Perry said, "The crime scene was difficult to interpret and the husband told us an elaborate and complicated story full of elusive details."
Barber's attorney, Bob Willis of Jacksonville, said Barber traveled to St. Augustine this week when he heard the homicide case was being presented to the grand jury. Barber had been living in Portland, Ore.
Barber maintains his innocence and has always cooperated with authorities, Willis said.
"The bad news is he has been indicted, the good news is we get a trial," Willis said.
- August 19, 2002: Police Have Few Clues In Double Shooting At Beach