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Used To Love Her" played in a murder trial as evidence...


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DATE: 14th June, 2006

TITLE: Guns N' Roses song played in murder trial as prosecutors try to prove a husband killed his wife


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Did Justin Barber turn to a Guns N' Roses tune to work up the nerve to murder his wife?

Prosecutors suggested as much at the business analyst's capital trial Wednesday when they played a recording of the band's 1988 track "Used To Love Her" for jurors.

The song, in which a man brags about killing his mate, was downloaded to Barber's computer just five hours before his 27-year-old wife, April, was shot dead on a deserted beach.

Barber, 33, claims a mugger attacked the couple as they strolled along the water, shooting his wife in the head and him four times in the upper body.

In a surreal moment in Judge Edward Hedstrom's courtroom, the forensic computer analyst who found the music track in deleted files on Barber's hard drive placed a laptop on the witness box and cued the song for jurors to hear.

After some introductory guitar strumming, the gravelly voice of lead singer Axl Rose echoed through the room.

"I used to love her, but I had to kill her/ I had to put her/ Six feet under/ And I can still hear her complain," he sings.

The lyrics were displayed on a large poster board in front of the jury box.

The victim's aunt, who raised her after her mother died, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue during the second verse: "I knew I'd miss her/ So I had to keep her/ She's buried right in my backyard."

At the defense table, Justin Barber scribbled on a notepad while his defense lawyer, Robert Willis, shook his head and bounced in his chair to the music.

On cross-examination, the analyst, Christopher Hendry, acknowledged that he could not say whether Barber listened to "Used To Love Her" the night of the murder or merely downloaded it. The lawyer questioned him about other music on the computer and Hendry, who works at the state crime laboratory, said he found almost 1,700 songs on his hard drive, including 16 that were downloaded the evening April Barber was killed.

Those songs included another Guns N' Roses song "November Rain" as well as "I'm Movin' On" by the country band Rascal Flatts and "I'm So Excited" by the Pointer Sisters.

"And out of those, we brought this one into the courtroom," defense lawyer Robert Willis asked.

"Right," Hendry said.

Under further questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Matt Foxman, Hendry noted that "Used To Love Her" was the only song deleted after the murder.

The computer analyst also testified about several Internet searches Barber conducted about six months before his wife's murder. In one on Valentine's Day 2002, Barber used his company issued laptop to search Google for "trauma cases gunshot right chest," Hendry said.

A week later, he searched for "medical trauma gunshot chest." Prosecutors have suggested he was researching ways to survive shooting himself.

The analyst also told jurors he found an undated search for "Florida divorce."

Also Wednesday, jurors viewed a three-hour videotaped deposition Barber gave in a civil suit filed by his wife's relatives.

In it, Barber insisted that at the time of the murder, he was under the impression that his wife's $2 million life insurance policy had lapsed because of he had stopped paying the premiums. He said he was surprised to learn the policy was still in effect because April Barber had paid the premium herself.

In the video, Barber acknowledged affairs with five women, including two co-workers and two women he met in bars. He said April Barber never learned about his infidelities and said he and his wife had a good relationship despite maintaining residences in different cities.

"It was a normal marriage. We had our ups and downs," he said.

Testimony continues Thursday morning. The trial is being shown live in Court TV Extra.


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