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Former Olympian Found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity For Attempted Murder

A jury determined that Michael Barisone, who was an Olympic-level equestrian, was delusional and paranoid when he shot his trainee, Lauren Kanarek, twice in the chest.

By Gina Tron
Michael Barisone

A former Olympian has been found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted murder of a trainee at a New Jersey horse farm.

A 12-member jury found Michael Barisone, 58, not guilty by reason of insanity on all charges against him on Thursday, the Daily Record reports. The most serious charges were for the attempted murder of Lauren Kanarek, who was shot twice in the chest in the summer of 2019 at Barisone's Long Valley dressage farm. The jury determined that he did not try to shoot at Kanarek's fiancé, Robert Goodwin.

The horse rider broke down, shaking and crying, as the jury stated in Morris County Superior Court that he was not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges of attempted murder for Kanarek’s shooting; not guilty of the attempted murder of Goodwin; not guilty of aggravated assault against Goodwin; not guilty by reason of insanity for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose against Kanarek; and not guilty of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

As a result of the verdict, Barisone  — who was a part of the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team in the 2008 Games will be civilly committed to the Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton for a 30 day evaluation. A private hearing after that will be held on May 17.

During the 11-day trial, Barisone’s defense convinced the jury that Barisone was suffering from a delusional disorder at the time of the shooting. They claimed he was paranoid and detached from reality, according to the Daily Record.

He and the shooting victim met in 2018 and he began training her in dressage as she and Goodwin stayed at his farm. But by 2019, the arrangement turned ugly and Barisone tried to evict the couple. 

Just days before the shooting, Kanarek, who had won several medals in national equestrian competitions, posted on Facebook that she was being bullied, the New York Times reported. Kanarek testified that she reported Barisone and his girlfriend to SafeSport — an organization fielding abuse allegations in Olympic and Paralympic sports — about the couple bullying her, Law&Crime reports.

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