Olympic dressage rider charged with attempted murder after dispute with tenants

A former US Olympic dressage rider charged with two counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon has been denied bail after a judge ruled he was a “continuing danger” to himself and the “victims”.

Michael Barisone, 54, who rode on the US team at the 2008 games in Beijing, is accused of shooting dressage rider Lauren Kanarek twice in the chest at his farm in Long Valley, New Jersey, on 7 August.

Court documents claim Barisone also fired a shot at Miss Kanarek’s fiancé Robert Goodwin, who was then injured as he grappled with the Olympian, disarming him and pinning him to the floor.

At a hearing in Morris County Superior Court, judge Stephen Taylor described how police had arrived at the property to find Mr Goodwin lying on top of Barisone and shouting for help.

A pink and black 9mm Ruger handgun was recovered at the scene.

“There is no evidence in this case that either of the victims were armed with a weapon of any sort,” he said. “There was some discussion, perhaps even a confrontation or argument between the parties here, but based on the facts Mr Barisone resorted to violence to solve this dispute.”

Barisone, who has tallied more than 100 CDI grands prix wins in his career, appeared in court with bruises to his face and his left arm strapped to his side with a black sling.

Arguing for bail to be granted, his attorney Jeffrey Simms described Miss Kanarek and Mr Goodwin as “squatters” at the Hawthorne Hill property where they had been living with their horses for “several months” with “no money” changing hands.

“They were not tenants, they were no longer allowed to stay on the property. They were not training their horses there with Mr Barisone’s approval,” he said. “They were asked on numerous occasions to vacate and they did not vacate. The police were called on several occasions by Mr Barisone for them to vacate and they refused to.

“That’s when the threats started to come, when they were asked to leave they threatened Mr Barisone, they threatened Mr Barisone’s partner and they threatened Mr Barisone’s partner’s children – that was part of that matter.”

He also spoke of Barisone’s good character, saying he had “not a blemish” on his record and was “well thought of”.

“He owns his own business, owns property and employs people, and lived on the property himself until these people threatened him and he had to move from his own home to an office barn,” he said.

An attorney acting for Miss Kanarek and Mr Goodwin, said the couple had originally stayed with Barisone for the summer season in 2018 before training in Florida over the winter. They had then returned to the New Jersey farm when the summer season began in 2019.

He claimed the defendant went to the property on 7 August “with a particular goal in mind” to “murder his adversaries”, having not been able to “gain resolution through the civil courts or the police”.

Taking the decision to deny bail, the judge said that he believed Barisone posed a “continuing danger perhaps to himself as well as the victims here” and that the “weight of evidence was strong”.

He added that he was particularly troubled by an affadavit from the first responders, who reported Barisone repeating “I had a good life” multiple times as he left the scene.

“I find that a rather fatalistic statement that is troubling the court with regard to what may happen if Mr Barisone is released,” he said.

While there was clearly a “landlord tenant dispute” at the heart of the issue, these matters were normally resolved in “a civil court”, he added.

“There are procedures in place in civil society for resolving those disputes and if Mr Barisone had followed those procedures, we wouldn’t be here today.”

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Miss Kararek continues to be treated for gunshot wounds at Morristown Medical Center, where her condition remains serious.

In a statement released on Wednesday (14 August), her family said she sustained damage to her chest and lungs and doctors had performed “several medical procedures to enable her to breathe”.

It added that Mr Goodwin had undergone surgery on Tuesday (13 August) to repair a broken hand sustained in “a brawl that ensued after the shooting”.

“At this time, the family thanks those who have supported them and Lauren through this most traumatic time. While there may have been a civil disagreement between Lauren and Mr Barisone, such things never justify the use of a gun,” the statement said.

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