A New Jersey Olympian accused of shooting a former riding student in the chest has been found not guilty by reason of insanity, a jury ruled Thursday.
Michael Barisone, a former Olympic rider and trainer, was facing an attempted murder charge for the August 2019 shooting of award-winning rider Lauren Kanarek, 38, at his sprawling Morris County farm.
Barisone, a member of the Beijing 2008 Summer Games squad, is said to have shot Kanarek twice in the chest at point-blank range at the posh 53-acre dressage facility.
The 67-year-old was also found not guilty of a second attempted murder for allegedly shooting Kanarek’s fiancé Robert Goodwin. The bullet missed Goodwin.
Barisone broke down in tears when the verdict was announced after more than 17 hours of jury deliberation, NJ.com reported. He faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted of all the charges against him.
Ed Bilinkas, Barisone’s attorney, had argued that Kanarek waged a psychological war against his client, which eventually led him to grab and shoot Kanarek, NJ.com reported.
Before the shooting, police had responded to the property multiple times. Barisone had called the couple’s 911 number, claiming that Kanarek and Goodwin were living in his training facility without a lease and without paying rent. Tensions reportedly peaked after Kanarek accused Barisone of child molestation.
Kanarek had posted on social media on numerous occasions that she feared for her safety and alluded to Barisone but never named him.
During the trial, she testified that Barisone frequently bullied her and argued that her numerous posts on Facebook were not meant to be threatening.
A doctor who examined Barisone for defense said he became paranoid because Kanarek listened to his private conversations, reinforced by their contributions. He stopped sleeping in the same building as them, where he had his own apartment, and started sleeping in his office. In the days leading up to the shooting, he began sleeping outside after a health official told him it was unsafe to sleep in the office.
Barisone and Kanarek started working together in 2018, but the relationship quickly deteriorated. Witnesses from both sides said she could be difficult to work with, NJ.com reported.
Judge Stephen Taylor is scheduled for a closed hearing on May 17 on not guilty of insanity. He will be committed to a civilian psychiatric facility in the meantime, the judge ruled, according to NJ.com.
Barisone, 67, was also found not guilty of aggravated assault and gun charges against Goodwin, and found not guilty of insanity on gun charges against Kanarek after the 15-day trial.
After a 30-day investigation, doctors will decide whether to hold him in psychiatric hospitals or release him to the community if deemed safe.
“While we are disappointed with the outcome, consistent with our commitment to the integrity of the criminal justice system, the verdict must be respected,” Morris County Attorney Robert J. Carroll said in a statement obtained by the Post.
“I recognize that the case has generated strong opinions about how the public views the defendant and the victims in this matter, and I ask the public to respect the jury members and their decision.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/ex-olympian-michael-barisone-found-not-guilty-in-shooting/ Ex-Olympic athlete Michael Barisone found not guilty of shooting