Husband indicted in killing Accused of stabbing his mail-order bride and taking their young son, he faces a murder trial.

Posted: January 16, 2004

MOUNT HOLLY — A man charged with fatally stabbing his mail-order bride outside their son's Mount Laurel day-care center last year must stand trial on a murder charge, a Burlington County grand jury ruled yesterday.

Cherry Hill resident Lester Barney, 59, was also indicted on charges of interference with custody and contempt.

His estranged wife, Alla Barney, 26, of Westmont, bled to death Sept. 29 on the floor of her car in the parking lot of the KinderCare Learning Center on South Church Street. Police said they believed Barney had been waiting for her as she picked up their 4-year-old son and then had stabbed her in the neck before fleeing with the boy.

A few hours later, authorities said, Barney dropped off his son at the home of a woman he knew from church and asked her to keep him overnight.

Barney was found soon after that in his car in the Kingston section of Cherry Hill.

Officials said the couple had had problems since Alla Barney came to the United States from Ukraine through a mail-order bride service in 1998 to wed Lester Barney, officials have said.

In March, Lester Barney filed for divorce, claiming infidelity. Alla Barney, who had temporary custody of their son, had asked the court for a restraining order against her husband, contending that he was abusive. The Barneys had appeared in court on that matter the day she was killed.

If convicted of the murder charge, Barney could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In November, Alla Barney's parents, Vladimir and Natalia Chevhanova, went to court and gained authority over the body of their only child. The body was returned to Nikolayev, Ukraine, and buried, Myroslaw Smorodsky, the Chevhanovas' attorney, said yesterday.

He is being held in the Burlington County Detention Center, unable to post $500,000 bail.

The Chevhanovas are seeking custody of their grandson.

Contact staff writer Joel Bewley at 609-261-0900 or jbewley@phillynews.com.

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