Beach Murder Coverup? Fla. Man Accused of Killing Wife

ByABC News via logo
June 21, 2006, 7:42 AM

June 21, 2006 — -- Prosecutors say a Florida man accused of murdering his wife -- and then inventing a story to cover it up -- researched the killing on his computer.

"If there's a smoking gun for the prosecution, it's the computer searches before the shooting," trial attorney Roger Dodd said.

Justin Barber, a 34-year-old business analyst, is on trial in the August 2002 slaying of his wife, April.

He said that the two had been walking along the beach at Guana River, when his wife was killed during a robbery attempt.

April Barber, 27, was fatally shot in the head while Justin Barber survived four gunshot wounds that investigators called "superficial."

Jurors heard Justin Barber describe the moments before the alleged robber killed his wife.

"When she started talking, he pointed the gun at her," Barber said on a video played in court. "I tried to move between them. I tried to get between them, and the gun went off."

Justin Barber said he passed out and woke to find his wife floating in the water. He drove 10 miles to get help, and eventually made it to a hospital.

Police searched the beach for a murder weapon, but never found one.

Justin and April Barber had been married for three years, and both had high-paying jobs. Prosecutors say Barber's motive for murder was to get the proceeds from an insurance policy so he could pay off credit card debt.

"The prosecution will say that a $2 million insurance policy is 2 million reasons to have a motive for murder," prosecutor Dodd said in opening statements.

Prosecutors also say Barber was having an affair. The alleged mistress, Shannon Kennedy, testified in court about the relationship, but also said that Justin Barber had told her he had tried to save his wife.

"He said that he loved her. He just couldn't live with her," Kennedy said.

The defense showed the jury a video of Barber on the beach, telling police what had happened and how he had struggled for his life. They also presented a witness who said he had seen another car -- not Justin Barber's -- leaving the beach after the shooting.

The prosecution has presented evidence that shows Barber had researched terms like "medical trauma" and "right chest gunshot" on the Internet six months before the slaying.