Man On Trial For Killing Wife On St. Johns Beach

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:31:26 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2006 02:57:57 AM EDT
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -

In opening statements Monday in the first-degree murder trial of a man accused of killing his wife, prosecutors painted a picture of a cheating, money-hungry husband.

The defense told jurors Justin Barber was also a victim of an attack in which his wife died.

Barber is accused of shooting his wife, April, at the Guana River State Park in 2002.

Prosecutors said Barber shot his wife so he could collect on a $2 million life-insurance policy, then shot himself so it looked like they'd both been attacked.

Investigators said Barber did suffer four slight gunshot wounds.

"Up at that boardwalk, the evidence will show you, that the defendant then shot her in the face," assistant state attorney Chris France told the jury. "(He) then shoots himself -- all with the same .22-caliber pistol."

Barber insists he is innocent, saying he and his wife were shot by an unknown gunman as they were strolling on the beach.

"The gunman came up to the two of them and pointed the gun at him," Bob Willis said. "The robber moved the gun from pointing at his face and pointed it at April. At that point, he tried to move in between them, and the next thing he knows, he hears shots."

During a 2003 deposition for a civil case involving his wife's life-insurance policy, Barber contended that a mysterious gunman confronted the couple near the park, asking them for money before shooting him and his wife. In that proceeding, Barber admitted having a series of extramarital affairs.

A jury was seated last week for the first-degree murder trial. Barber has pleaded not guilty.

The case has drawn national attention, with several national media outlets planning to cover the trial. Court TV is showing the trial live on its cable channel.

Channel 4's Dan Leveton is at the St. Johns County Courthouse for opening statements. He'll have live reports on the local station beginning at noon. Refresh this story throughout the day for updates.

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