An Arlington judge imposed the jury-recommended 39-year term yesterday on Robert R. Barrow for the murder of his wife, crediting the defense with influencing the jury's decision not to recommend a stiffer penalty.

"You both did an excellent job and I think it's reflected in the jury verdict," Circuit Court Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick told defense attorneys John W. Karr and Mark B. Sandground in rejecting their pleas for a more lenient sentence. "If it hadn't been for you two, I think Mr. Barrow would have received a longer sentence."

Barrow, 46, of 4089 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington, could have received a life sentence on his October conviction of the first-degree murder of his 44-year-old wife, Nancy K. Barrow, whose body was found June 11 in the kitchen of her home at 4818 N. 25th St., Arlington. She was shot three times and stabbed once.

Under Virginia law, Kendrick could have reduced, but not increased, the jury's recommended sentences of 35 years for first-degree murder, two years for the use of a gun and two years for discharging a gun in an occupied dwelling.

But, Kendrick said in ordering the sentences to be served consecutively, "I'm not persuaded this is a case where I should exercise that extraordinary power."

Robert Barrow's trial was an emotional one in which he sobbed on the stand as he testified he brought a gun to the home of his estranged wife that night with the intention of killing himself.

When the couple, who had filed for divorce, got into an argument over property and financial matters, Barrow testified, his wife threatened to take their 9-year-old son away from him. That threat, the defense said, triggered "a moment of blind rage" that led to the killing.

However, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Frank Soulier produced a witness who said Barrow had talked about shooting his wife for two to three months.

Before the sentencing, the defense called Thomas C. Goldman, a psychiatrist, who testified that the murder was "a unique solution to a unique problem." He said Barrow was unlikely to kill again and would not benefit from a sentence of more than five years.

Soulier objected to the suggestion, arguing that the jury recommended its sentence after hearing similar testimony during the trial.

Barrow could be eligible for parole in seven years.