State responds to killer's request for new trial

Justin Barber serving life sentence for killing wife in 2002

Published On: Nov 09 2012 02:08:16 PM EST   Updated On: Sep 15 2006 08:34:18 AM EDT

The State Attorney's Office has filed a response to a motion filed earlier this year asking for a new trial for convicted killer Justin Barber.

Barber was found guilty in the 2002 shooting death of his wife, April, during a late night walk in Guana State Park.

Barber’s new defense lawyer claims Barber attorney during the trial, Bob Willis, was operating under a conflict of interest and provided ineffective counsel.

Before Barber was arrested, April Barber’s family sued him, to try to block him from getting the $2 million from her life insurance policy, which investigators said was the motive for the murder. 

William Kent, Barber’s current attorney, claims Willis convinced Barber not to accept a plea deal because that would have kept him from getting the money. Willis would have received 40 percent of the money through his representation in the civil suit.

In the prosecution's filing, they say Willis in fact tried to persuade Barber to renounce the insurance policy even before he was charged, but Barber refused.  Willis allegedly told Barber there was no way they would prevail in that lawsuit, but Barber told him to fight it.

The motion for a new trial also claims Willis made mistakes in dealing with the evidence and witnesses.

There's word when the judge will rule on whether or not Barber will get a new trial.  He is serving a sentence of life in prison.