ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A St. Johns County jury convicted Justin Barber on Saturday morning of the first-degree murder of his wife, rejecting his claim that someone attacked them both as they strolled along a deserted beach.
The jury will return next week to decide whether Barber, 34, should be sentenced to death or to life in prison for the slaying.
With its verdict, the jury found that Barber shot his 27-year-old wife, April, in the face while the couple was at Guana River State Park on Aug. 17, 2002. Investigators said he then turned the gun on himself, firing four shots into his upper body to make the crime look like a robbery.
Prosecutors said the motive was his wife's $2 million life insurance policy.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated 33 hours over four days before returning the verdict just after 11 a.m. Saturday. The decision came shortly after the jury reviewed a taped deposition Barber gave to investigators after the murder.
Harriet Ryan of Court TV said Barber did not flinch as the verdict was read by a court clerk. A gasp of "Yes" went up from the friends and family members of the victim, who packed three rows of the gallery behind prosecutors.
Moments later, as Barber submitted to fingerprinting, his hands shook and he appeared frightened. His mother cried out, "I love you."
Because the state is seeking the death penalty, the jury was required to have a unanimous verdict.
- June 23, 2006: Third Day Of Deliberations Ends Without Verdict
- June 21, 2006: Murderer Or Victim? Jury Deliberates Justin Barber Case
- June 20, 2006: Expert Testifies Evidence Consistent With Man's Story Of Wife's Death; Defense Rests
- June 19, 2006: Defense Argues Husband Was Victim, Not Killer
- June 16, 2006: Prosecution Rests In Husband's Murder Trial
- June 14, 2006: 'Used To Love Her' Download Played For Jury In Husband's Murder Trial
- June 14, 2006: Jury Sees Video Reenactment Of Fatal Shooting
- June 12, 2006: Opening Statements, Testimony Begin In Husband's Murder Case
- June 12, 2006: Man On Trial For Killing Wife On St. Johns Beach
- June 8, 2006: Jury Selection Complete; Husband's Murder Trial To Begin
- June 6, 2006: St. Johns Man Charged With Wife's Murder Prepares For Trial
- July 12, 2004: Husband Arrested In Deadly Guana River Shooting
- April 9, 2004: Police Find Possible Clues in 2002 Murder
- August 19, 2002: Police Have Few Clues In Double Shooting At Beach
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