Michael Barisone will spend at least the next six months in treatment at Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital, after the judge who presided at his attempted murder trial expressed concern today that the dressage trainer could be a danger to others if he is not held for treatment.
In April, the 2008 U.S. Olympic dressage team alternate was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of a former student, Lauren Kanarek, a case that drew national attention. He spent more than three months in the Ann Klein Forensic Center in West Trenton, New Jersey, after being transferred to the psychiatric facility from the Morris County Jail following his trial.
Today’s appearance was for a Krol hearing, which makes a special finding as to whether a defendant’s “insanity continues” and if so, rules on continuing confinement.
A clean-shaven and neatly barbered Barisone, dressed in a brown plaid jacket and open-necked shirt appeared before Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor in Morristown, New Jersey, looking completely different than he did during his trial. At that time, he was unshaven, with long, tangled hair, wearing wrinkled shirts. Commenting on his “markedly different” demeanor, the judge wondered whether the unkempt look had been “for the jury’s benefit” at the trial.
Barisone has been in some sort of custody since the August 2019 shooting that left Kanarek in intensive care after suffering two bullet wounds to her chest. The horseman, who says he doesn’t remember the incident, was at odds with Kanarek and her boyfriend, Robert Goodwin. They were tenants he was trying to move off his Long Valley, New Jersey, farm, as their relationship got more and more contentious.
Although he called police repeatedly about the situation, Barisone got no assistance from them and became increasingly distraught. The last straw for him was the appearance of a worker from the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency, whom he thought was investigating sexual abuse of his former girlfriend’s children. Believing that Kanarek had called the agency, he drove down to the farmhouse, where the shooting took place. At today’s hearing, it was stated that the DCPP employee was actually looking into allegations of neglect, not abuse.
Psychiatrist Steven Simring, called to testify by Barisone’s lawyer Ed Bilinkas, said Barisone suffers from chronic depression and delusional disorder. He recommended that Barisone be discharged to live in the community, but also said he needs daily intensive outpatient treatment “to get his life back on track and deal with his demons.”
Simring observed that because Barisone felt that “he was under direct and personal threat by Lauren Kanarek, who I believe was gaslighting him…he came to feel delusional, that Lauren Kanarek was capable of anything; poisoning the horses, doing some kind of harm to the tenants and students.”
The psychiatrist pointed out “difficulty in running the farm were not the normal business concerns, but rather, the direct threat he felt from Lauren Kanarek.”
Barisone, who had problems from childhood with an abusive mother, had spent years in therapy trying to solve his issues.
Simring said neither Anne Klein nor Greystone, in Morris Plains, New Jersey, have the type of treatment that Barisone needs, but the judge disagreed and believes Greystone is a good option. He noted a committee of psychologists, social workers and other professionals at Ann Klein were against a finding by psychiatrist Dr. Joanna Bajgier that Barisone could be discharged and “managed in the community” with outpatient treatment.
Bajgier said her patient doesn’t remember shooting Kanarek and “is trying to fill in gaps.” The psychiatrist reported that a state psychologist discussing the wounding of Kanarek with Barisone commented, “he said possibly he shot her and possibly he did not shoot her.”
Under questioning by Bilinkas, Bajgier said she did not see the trainer as a danger to himself or others. She noted that within days of arriving at Ann Klein, Barisone took himself off medication for anxiety and depression, among other things, and is not on any medication now.
The judge expressed concern that if Barisone crosses paths again with Kanarek, either in the horse world or in court (Kanarek is suing Barisone, and he is counter-suing) it could result in “a situation I don’t think he’s capable of dealing with.”
Barisone also has an issue of dealing with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which has suspended him and could permanently limit his involvement in his profession.
Morris County Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn, agreeing with the Greystone recommendation, said Barisone needs to “focus on improving his coping skills, getting his life together…and working through what happened here.”
Bilinkas observed it was a plus that the judge said Barisone would not have to come back to court for permission to graduate through the treatment levels at Greystone.
“Normally, Level One, he’d come back in six months, and he’d say he can go to Level Two,” which is less restrictive.
“The judge is putting in the order he can go through the process,” Bilinkas continued.
“Once they have any dealings with him, I think he’ll fly through the process and be able to be released. I vehemently disagree with the analysis of the experts, but that’s what he ruled.”
Taylor set a date in March for Barisone’s next hearing.