MORRISTOWN, NJ — A New Jersey jury found a former Olympian equestrian competitor not guilty Thursday in the murder of a woman at his training facility nearly three years ago.
Michael Barisone had faced attempted murder and other charges for the August 2019 shooting of Lauren Kanarek. Kanarek and her fiancé, Michael Goodwin, lived and trained horses at the Barisone Farm in Long Valley, western New Jersey.
The state’s Superior Court verdict came after about 18 hours of deliberations following a two-week trial. The jury found Barisone not guilty by reason of insanity of the attempted murder of Kanarek and not guilty of the attempted murder of Goodwin. Barisone was also acquitted of the weapons charge.
According to his website, Barisone was a member of the 2008 Olympic team and the 1997 Nations Cup gold medal team in Hickstead, England. He said he coaches Olympians and is a board member of the American Equestrian Federation.
Barisone claimed Kanarek and Goodwin violated a verbal agreement to leave the farm after training was completed, and police were called to the home multiple times in the 10 days before the shooting.
Barisone’s attorney had said at the time of his indictment that Kanarek and Goodwin had threatened and harassed his client. Doctors who testified at trial said Barisone, who did not testify, was legally insane and suffered from delusions and paranoia, the Daily Record reported.
Kanarek was shot in the chest and placed in a medically induced coma, and underwent major surgery to repair the damage to her left lung. She has since recovered.
In a statement Thursday, Morris County District Attorney Robert J. Carroll said, “While disappointed with the outcome, consistent with our commitment to the integrity of the criminal justice system, the verdict must be respected. I recognize that The case has sparked strong opinions when it comes to how the public views the accused and the victims in this case, and I ask the public to respect the members of the jury and their decision.”
Barisone will be committed to the Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton for 30 days for evaluation before returning to court next month, the newspaper reported.