Convicted Murderer Asks Judge For New Trial

PALATKA, Fla. - The attorney for a man convicted of murdering his wife began efforts to save his client's life, trying on Tuesday to convince a judge that the jury's verdict was tainted.

In June, a jury found Justin Barber guilty of killing his wife April on a beach four years ago.

National television crews set up in the St. Johns County courtroom for weeks during the trial, and people all over the country watched every detail.

Barber was found guilty, and jurors recommended he die for shooting his wife in the head on the beach and trying to cover it up for insurance money.

Barber's attorney Bob Willis said he believes the 12 people who reached the guilty verdict were influenced by some of the media coverage.

Willis asked the judge for a new trial, saying his client didn't get a fair jury.

"I don't think that's the issue. I think the next issue is, did the jurors hear it," the judge said in court.

In court on Tuesday, Willis brought in tapes from Court TV, specifically commentary from former State's Attorney Maureen Christine.

Christine made several appearances on Court TV during the trial, and Willis said he believes she may have hurt his case.

"Do you have any evidence of any kind or any suspicions?" asked the judge.

"Yes. I have suspicions, very much so," Willis said.

Willis said he would like to confirm his premonition by interviewing each juror to determine if they viewed any media coverage.

The defense did not say whether there is evidence that jurors actually saw anything on TV that would have tainted the verdict, but they did convince the judge they have speculative evidence.

State's Attorney Chris France said Willis would need more proof than speculative evidence to make his point.

"The matter is, do they have any idea at all, beyond pure speculation, that jurors actually heard this information when they were repeatedly told not to," France said.

Because Christine was not in court on Tuesday, the judge moved the motion's hearing to next week, at which time he is expected to decide whether to grant Willis' wish to interview the jurors.

The judge is also expected hand down a sentence in the case next week.

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