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Dressage Rider Testifies About How Former Olympic Coach Tried to ‘Violently Murder’ Her



It’s not every day that a shooting victim lives to tell the tale, but dressage competitor Lauren Kanarek, 41, took the stand on Wednesday to testify against former Olympic coach Michael Barisone, 57, the man charged with trying to murder her.

Kanarek said Barisone shot her twice while she was on the phone with an attorney. Kanarek acted out how the defendant pulled out the gun, pointed it, and “boom, boom, just like that.” Barisone also fired at her fiancé Rob Goodwin. That shot missed, but Kanarek said she thought he had shot Goodwin in the head. She said she even looked down at her chest when it happened.

“It was almost unreal to me I had gotten shot,” she said.

Barisone, on the other hand, is claiming self-defense.

If both sides agree on anything, it is that the relationship between the defendant and Kanarek had been falling apart in the time leading up to the shooting.

Kanarek was a tenant at his farm in Morris County, New Jersey. She claimed Barisone and his girlfriend Mary Haskins Gray engaged in bullying behavior against her. Accordingly, she made a complaint to SafeSport–an organization fielding abuse allegations in U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports–about the couple bullying her, engaging in scare tactics, and body shaming.

She was asked about the worst thing Barisone ended up doing to her.

“Tried to violently murder me on August 7, 2019,” she said.

For her part, Gray testified that Kanarek made threats on social media.

“We were terrified of what it was building to, and what was coming next,” she said. “[Barisone] was absolutely petrified and terrified.”

Dr. Ruth Cox, who gave Barisone the gun, testified that Goodwin threatened both her and Barisone, though the judge said only Barisone’s state of mind was relevant to this questioning. Finally asked only about the alleged threat against Barisone, Cox said she did not remember the specifics.

“I do not remember the specific words, but it was around–He was not going to let Michael determine what was going on with him and his girlfriend’s horses,” she said.

Kanarek acknowledged writing what the prosecutors described as “unflattering” things about the couple online, but she denied ever making threats against them. Asked why she did not leave the farm, she said it was prohibitively difficult to move her five horses on short notice.

Kanarek testified that Barisone could be hilariously funny, charming, and nice. On other days, she said, Barisne seemed angry, and even screamed at a staff member. At that point, you would know better to keep your distance, Kanarek testified.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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