Robert R. Barrow, 46, of Arlington shot and killed his wife, Nancy K. Barrow, June 11 in "a moment of absolute blind passion," his attorney told a jury yesterday in opening arguments of Barrow's trial on a charge of first-degree murder.

"The rubber band finally snapped" in Barrow's mind, attorney John W. Karr told the Arlington Circuit Court jury.

Nancy Barrow, 44, was found dead on the kitchen floor of her home at 4818 N. 25th St. after neighbors reported hearing screaming and the sound of gunshots about 9:30 p.m. June 11.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner James C. Beyer testified that she died of three gunshot wounds and a stab wound to the left side of chest.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Frank Soulier lowered his voice to a hush as he told the jury of the evidence he planned to present about the killing -- evidence, he said, that would cause the jurors "to relive the final day in the life of Nancy Kelly Barrow, to feel and see the last moments in her life.

"I think you will conclude," Soulier continued, "that Robert Barrow took the gun, a deliberate act, a willful act, a premeditated act, and fired five shots at Nancy Barrow. Three of them hit her."

Robert Barrow was shot and wounded twice by an Arlington police officer who stopped Barrow's car at George Mason and Patrick Henry drives shortly after the slaying. The officer, Jeffrey T. Markley, testified yesterday that he fired after pleading with Barrow to drop his gun.

After the first shot, Markley testified, Barrow dropped to the ground and reached again for his gun, which had fallen inches from his hand. "He told me to kill him," Markley said. "He was asking me to kill him."

According to court records, Robert Barrow filed for divorce in November 1984 on grounds of adultery. Attorneys for the two in the divorce proceedings said they had separated earlier in 1984 and that Robert Barrow had moved to an apartment.

Karr yesterday described the couple's tense battle over custody of their 9-year-old son, Jason. An agreement for shared custody was awaiting final court approval, according to Arlington Circuit Court records.

Barrow, a senior CPA with the Defense Contract Audit Agency, sat impassively through Soulier's opening arguments, but lowered his head and rubbed his forehead as his attorney spoke about the Barrows' marriage and custody battle.

"What this case is not about is finding out who killed Nancy Barrow," Karr said. "What it is about is what was in the mind of Robert Barrow the moment his mind exploded." By the end of Karr's remarks, Barrow was dabbing a handkerchief at eyes squeezed shut with tears.