Friday, August 26, 2005

No verdict in mail-order bride murder case

By Joel Bewley


Burlington County jurors were unable to reach a verdict today in the murder trial of a man charged with killing his mail-order bride in front of their young son.

At one point in the afternoon, the jury asked to see transcripts of testimony given by the medical examiner and two other witnesses, as well as Lester Barney's description of the struggle that led to the death of Alla Barney. Deliberations will resume tomorrow.

In closing arguments yesterday, Barney's defense lawyer sought to portray his client as the guiltless target of an attack that ended with the accidental slaying of his estranged wife.

The prosecution argued that Barney was a vengeful killer with an overpowering fear of losing custody of his son.

Barney, 60, of Cherry Hill, is accused of fatally stabbing Alla, 24, in the parking lot of their son's day-care center in Mount Laurel on Sept. 29, 2003. He could be sentenced to a term of 30 years to life if convicted.

After a final day of witnesses and summations yesterday, Judge John A. Almeida gave jury members their legal instructions. The jury began deliberating this morning.

Lester and Alla Barney were married in 1998 after meeting online. Alla, a native of Ukraine, came to the United States to marry Barney, who had been divorced four times.

Contact staff writer Joel Bewley at 609-261-0900 or


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