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Former Olympian and Dressage Coach Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in Attempted Murder of Student

Michael Barisone

Michael Barisone awaits verdict.

A former Olympian and dressage coach who shot his student was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

Jurors in Morris County Superior Court on Thursday afternoon found Michael Barisone, 57, not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempted murder of Lauren Kanarek; not guilty of the attempted murder of Kanarek’s fiancé Robert Goodwin; not guilty of the lesser included offense in count 2 of aggravated assault against Goodwin; not guilty by reason of insanity for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose against Kanarek; and not guilty of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.


Both sides of the case agreed the relationship between Barisone and his former student Kanarek was falling apart amid her stay at Barisone’s farm in Morris County, New Jersey. The question before jurors was whether Barisone committed attempted murder in the fraught Aug. 7, 2019 confrontation that led to the trial. The jury answered that question with a resounding no.

Authorities said Barisone shot Lauren, 41, twice but missed her fiancé Rob.

Kanarek testified March 30 that she reported the defendant and his girlfriend Mary Haskins Gray 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.

Barisone has said that Kanarek and Goodwin threatened him, but he put forth an insanity defense.

Attorney Edward Bilinkas said that it was horrible that Kanarek was shot but added that the only evidence of how the shooting occurred came from her and Goodwin. He accused them of leaving out important facts, and he said they had motive to lie. For example, the couple said there were three shots. Investigators only found two shell casings.

Prosecutor Christopher Shellborn argued that Barisone did not truly fear for his life. For example, Barisone told a doctor he feared for his life by citing Kanarek’s posts on social media about guns, but when he previously called 911 on her, he did not say a word about those posts, Shellborn said.

Barisone appeared to break down in tears upon hearing the verdict.

Matt Naham contributed to this report.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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