ADA: Autopsy shows Aston Barth killed friend with ax

Aston Barth, 33, of Central Islip, seen inside Aston Barth, 33, of Central Islip, seen inside a Riverhead courtroom in earlier in the month, pleaded guilty Jan. 28, 2014, to killing a friend with an ax and keeping the body hidden in his bedroom closet for days. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Suffolk prosecutors still believe a Central Islip man killed his friend and left him in his closet for almost a week, but they said how he killed him differs from what he told police.

Prosecutors said Thursday Aston Barth, 33, told police he'd strangled next-door neighbor Jason Campbell, 35, before partially severing his head with an ax, but Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said an autopsy showed Barth actually killed Campbell with a single blow to the right side of the neck with the ax.

Kurtzrock said he had no idea why Barth would tell police that he killed Campbell, but lie about how he did it. And as for why Barth killed Campbell at all, Kurtzrock said he didn't know that either.

"I'm not sure if we're ever going to know why this happened," he said, shortly after Barth pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with second-degree murder.

Kurtzrock said Barth told police he'd tried to dismember Campbell's body with the ax after killing him, but the medical examiner found Campbell's only injury was from the ax.

Campbell's family members groaned as they listened to Kurtzrock describe the attack before Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr.

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Family members declined to comment afterward. So did defense attorney Paul Barahal.

Kurtzrock said Barth and Campbell argued in Barth's bedroom before the attack in the early hours of Dec. 18. Afterward, Barth wrapped Campbell's body in a blanket, stuffed it in his closet with the ax, covered the head with a garbage bag and denied knowing where his friend was until Barth's mother and brother found the body on Christmas Eve.

Until then, family members told police Barth had been acting oddly and telling people to stay out of his room.

Barth has three robbery convictions, most recently for robbing a bank while dressed as a woman. He is still on parole for a drug offense in Pennsylvania, Kurtzrock said. Toomey ordered Barth held without bail.

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