An Arlington jury convicted Robert R. Barrow last night of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Nancy K. Barrow, who was found shot three times and stabbed once on the kitchen floor of her home on June 11.
Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick revoked bond for Barrow, who was also convicted of two weapons charges, and asked the jurors, who reached their verdict in four hours, to return Tuesday to hear further testimony before recommending a sentence.
Barrow, 46, who bowed his head to his cane when the verdict was announced, could receive a life sentence on the murder conviction. He could be given a two-year sentence for use of a gun and two to 10 years for discharging a gun in an occupied dwelling.
Normally Virginia juries recommend sentences at the same time they return guilty verdicts, but Kendrick agreed with a defense request to separate the procedures. The defense team will present witnesses Tuesday in the hope they will persuade the jury to set a more lenient sentence.
Barrow's attorneys had asked the jury to find him guilty of voluntary manslaughter in a crime they called "a classic killing in hot blood."
"This defendant, a tragic figure," Mark B. Sandground said in closing arguments, " . . . exploded in one moment, never to be the same."
Nancy Barrow, 44, was found dead in her home at 4818 N. 25th St. Robert Barrow, a senior CPA with the Defense Contract Audit Agency, was arrested and wounded by an Arlington police officer a short time later after brandishing a handgun at the officer and begging him to kill him.
The Rev. Charles E. Reinhold, a Presbyterian minister who had counseled Barrow, was the last witness to testify yesterday. He said he had discussed Nancy Barrow's death with Robert Barrow two days after the incident, and "he said he had been thinking about it for two or three months. We were talking about his wife being shot; that was the context of everything."
In 3 1/2 hours of testimony Wednesday, much of it delivered through choking sobs, Barrow said he had not planned his wife's death and that he brought a .38-caliber antique revolver to her house that night because he had contemplated killing himself.
Barrow sat nearly motionless throughout Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Frank Soulier's hour-long closing argument, his eyes lowered to the defense table.
Soulier held up the kitchen knife police found sunk to its handle in Nancy Barrow's chest. Holding the blood-stained blade, he said, "Does that give you any idea of the malice in that man's heart that night as he plunged it this far into her chest?"
"This has been a blood-thirsty prosecution," Sandground countered in closing. "We submit: Strip away the emotion and you will find a terrible soul in conflict. A tragic killing, yes; sad, but not a premeditated act."
Barrow testified that after arguing with his wife June 11 over the sale of their house and the division of their income tax returns, she threatened to take away their 9-year-old son Jason. The two, whose divorce was nearly final, had a joint custody agreement for the child.
Defense counsel John W. Karr urged the jury to consider the Barrows' "16 years of a terrible marriage, in which these two people were nasty to each other." As Robert Barrow flushed, his arms hugging his chest, his shoulders quivering, Karr asked the jury to "salvage something out of this senseless killing."