What to Know
An Olympian who owns a sprawling equestrian center in NJ will remain jailed until trial for the attempted murder of a female tenant
Lauren Kanarak, 39, was staying at Michael Barisone's 53-acre Morris County with her fiance; she was shot twice in the chest last week
A lawyer for the Olympian says his client was the one who was harassed, both by Kanarak and her fiance, who was staying with her
A 54-year-old Olympian who owns and operates a sprawling equestrian center in New Jersey will remain jailed until trial for allegedly shooting a woman, his tenant, twice in the chest at point blank range on his 53-acre property last week.
Michael Barisone, of Washington Township, faces two counts each of first-degree attempted murder and second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose in the fray that unfolded at his facility on West Mill Road Aug. 7.
The former member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic dressage team is accused of opening fire on 39-year-old Lauren Kanarak, who continues to fight for her life at Morristown Memorial Hospital. Her sister, father and fiance, who was also injured in the confrontation with Barisone last week, were all in court Wednesday as the Olympian was ordered detained pending trial.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Barisone leased the residence to Kanarak and her fiance, Robert Goodwin. Goodwin, who told cops Barisone tried to shoot him, too, suffered minor injuries in the confrontation. There had been multiple recent calls to the address because of landlord-tenant related issues, the affidavit said.
Barisone's attorney, Jeffrey Simms, addressed that in court Wednesday, saying his client had called police several times the week of the shooting because he had been "threatened several times by the victims." Declaring Kanarak was more a villain than an alleged victim, Simms claimed she and Goodwin harassed Barisone and his children in an argument over training horses on the property.
The two had been living on Barisone's property rent-free in exchange for training horses, but that training agreement had ended and they were supposed to leave, Simms said. They would not, the defense attorney said, adding his client was living in a state of "constant fear." Moments before the shooting, Barisone's lawyer said, both Kanarak and Goodwin had called child protective services to make a "bogus" report that Barisone was abusing his two kids, who also lived on the property. Before that, Simms said the couple, standing outside Barisone's room, had told him, "We're going to do everything we can to destroy you."
Shots were fired shortly thereafter. Authorities have said it was Kanarak who called 911 to report her own shooting, telling the dispatcher, "Michael Barisone shot me. I've been shot twice," the probable cause affidavit says.
Once authorities arrived, they saw a second man, later identified as Goodwin, on top of Barisone on the pavement near a stairway leading into the property's main residence. Kanarak was on the ground nearby.
Cops untangled Barisone and Goodwin and found a pink and black handgun underneath Barisone, the affidavit says. Barisone had injuries to his head and arms and was taken to a hospital for treatment. Before he was transported, he was overheard saying, "I had a good life," multiple times, the affidavit says.
Judge Steven Taylor said in court Wednesday that settling a landlord-tenant dispute with a gun was not the way to do it. Barisone's attorney argued his client had tried multiple other times and in other ways to get the couple to leave, but the judge said, "based on the facts, Mr. Barisone resorted to violence to resolve this dispute." Taylor also noted Barisone's reported comments to first responders about having had a "good life" just before he was taken to the hospital.
"That is a rather fatalistic statement in regards to his release," Taylor said. "I think he poses a continuing danger to himself as well as to the victims."
Simms said he would ask Taylor to reconsider the detention order after he provides the judge evidence including emails.
Barisone faces up to a maximum of 80 years in jail if convicted of all four counts against him. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the Washington Township Police Department at 908-876-3232.