Morristown, NJ

Update: Former Olympian on Trial For Attempted Murder in Morristown, Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Morristown Minute

Former Olympian on trial for attempted murder at his Morris County equestrian center. The attempted murder trial for Michael Barisone began in Morristown on March 27, 2022.

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4/14/2022 Update: Michael Barisone has been found Not Guilty by reason of insanity

After 17-hours of deliberation, the former Olympian was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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A review:

Michael Barisone, the former Olympian, opened fire on Lauren Kanarek and her fiancé Robert Goodwin at an equestrian center Barisone owns in Morris County on August 7 of 2019. Barisone now faces two charges of attempted murder and weapons offenses.

Lauren Kanarek was shot twice in the chest by Olympian Michael Barisone at the horse farm Barisone owns in Morris County. Kanarek is currently recovering from the gunshot wounds. Her fiancé suffered a broken wrist from the attack.

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Goodwin (left) and Kanarek (right)Photo courtesy of the Kanarek family

The defense and the prosecution agreed that Michael Barisone shot Kanarek at his upscale equestrian center after a coaching relationship between them deteriorated beyond repair.

Prosecutors argued the shooting was an unjustifiable end to a dispute that spiraled out of control. Meanwhile, the defense portrayed Barisone as temporarily insane, being driven to the breaking point by abuse, and attempting to defend himself during a mental breakdown.

Barisone, a one-time Olympic dressage rider turned Olympic coach, was training Kanarek at his farm in Morris County in the summer of 2019. In the final weeks of Kanarek’s training, while living on the property with her fiancé Robert Goodwin, the police were called to the farm at least five times – each time officers said there was no action they could take and left without incident.

“They’re causing trouble, they’re stirring s--- up. They’re here in our private horse facility, and these people need to be warned," Barisone said to 911 dispatchers on July 31.
“This is a war and it’s going to be dealt with right now. I’ve had enough of these people. I need them gone.”

In Barisone’s calls to police, he accused Kanarek of trespassing, not paying rent, and harassment.

According to authorities, a landlord-tenant dispute led to the shooting on August 7th at Barisone Dressage on Hawthorne Farms.

“Michael Barisone shot me," Kanarek told 911 dispatchers on an unreleased 911 call, according to an affidavit. “I’ve been shot twice.”

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Michael BarisoneEd Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The 911 calls began on July 31, a week before the shooting. In the first call, Barisone claimed to the dispatcher that Kanarek and Goodwin were squatting in his home for months without paying rent.

“They are clients who have become a menace to us,” said Barisone. “These people are destroying our lives. These people are insane.”

On August 1, Barisone called the police again, claiming Kanarek was disturbing the peace, walking down the driveway while screaming with her father on the phone.

On August 3, Barisone called the police again stating he feared for his life after reading a Facebook comment from Kanarek where she said she is “not responsible for anything my other personalities do when they’re threatened.”

“That’s insane and we are in fear for our lives," Barisone said in the call, pleading for officers to arrive quickly. “I have a family.”

Kanarek called 911 with her own safety concerns just an hour later on August 3, highlighting an SUV moving slowly past the house where she was staying.

“It was a blacked-out SUV with some guy smoking a cigarette in the front who I’ve never seen before,” Kanarek told a dispatcher. “Except for last night at 3:15 in the morning, and we overheard them talking about like getting guys to like hurt us, kill us or whatever.”
“Are you or anyone else in danger right now?” the dispatcher asked. “We feel very much that we could be,” Kanarek said.

The last 911 call came on August 4 – Barisone can be heard arguing with Goodwin.

On August 7, Barisone shot Kanarek at close range in the chest, and shot at Goodwin but missed, according to police. Goodwin wrestled Barisone to the ground until police arrived.

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Washinton Twp. Cpl Derek Heymer holds a gun for the jury to see, in evidence, used in the shooting.Pool Photo

Barisone now faces up to 20 years in prison for each attempted murder charge.

Barisone represented the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has trained several other Olympians, including the U.S. bronze medalists in dressage at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

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Barisone (right) at the 2016 Rio OlympicsCourtesy of Ken Braddick / dressage-news.com

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