Just days ago, former Olympic equestrian and trainerwas back in a New Jersey courtroom. In 2019, he was charged with the attempted murder of one of his students, Lauren Kanarek, and her boyfriend. At his trial, Barisone’s legal team tried a rare strategy — the insanity defense. They argued Kanarek used to push him to his mental breaking point. Barisone speaks out to “48 Hours” contributor Nikki Battiste in his first television interview since the end of his trial.
Michael Barisone, 58, spent a lifetime standing proud in the winner’s circle.
Nikki Battiste: We see pictures of you at the Olympics looking like a king.
Michael Barisone: Yeah.
Nikki Battiste: And then we see you in the courtroom.
Michael Barisone: Yeah.
Nikki Battiste: Looking like a defeated man.
Michael Barisone: Yeah.
Nikki Battiste: How do you reconcile those two images?
Michael Barisone: I am a defeated man.
But come spring 2022, he was in a Morristown, New Jersey, courtroom. He claimed at the time of the shooting he temporarily lost his mind.
CHRISTOPHER SCHELLHORN | PROSECUTOR [in court]: He knew what he was doing when he loaded bullets into the gun.
Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn made the case that Barisone was sane — that he knew exactly what he was doing when he took that pistol and tried to kill one of his own riding students, Lauren Shay Kanarek.
LAUREN KANAREK [in court]: He pulled out a gun and shot me once, twice, directly in the chest.
Yet, with the help of emergency surgery, Kanarek survived.
Nikki Battiste [with Lauren and horses]: Can you imagine life without these beautiful animals?
Lauren Kanarek [pointing to horses]: No. No chance. See?
It is a sensational trial, with Kanarek herself accused by the defense of deliberately driving Barisone insane.
ED BILINKAS | DEFENSE ATTORNEY [in court]: She did the worst thing any human being could do to another human being.
Christopher Schellhorn: She was the person that was shot and almost lost her life that day.
An international superstar in the equestrian sport of dressage. Michael Barisone, charged with two counts of attempted murder, was facing 80 years.
Christopher Schellhorn: She sees his hand come up and then just boom, boom.
In court, the once regal rider appeared as a disheveled shadow of his former self.
It is as far a fall from grace as his elite sport has ever seen. As Barisone awaited judgment, his fellow Olympians rallied around him.
Nikki Battiste: For you to see him like that, how did it feel?
Michael Poulin: It’s hard (cries). But we’re going to get him back.
Now 77 years-old, in 1992 Michael Poulin took home a medal from Barcelona.
Nikki Battiste: You won a bronze at the Olympics?
Michael Poulin: Yeah. Yes, ma’am.
Michael Poulin: I met Michael when he was 11 … Very energetic. And very intense to learn.
Nikki Battiste: Were you like a father figure to him?
Michael Poulin: I was his mentor.
Michael Poulin: It’s rare to find a young man with that energy and that desire. … But Michael, boy, he hung onto it tough. He wanted it.
Phillip Dutton is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, one of the best in the world.
Phillip Dutton: You got the feeling that if you were on Michael’s team, he was gonna back you all the way.
And then there’s Olympian Boyd Martin. He recalls first meeting Michael.
Boyd Martin: … had a big cowboy hat on, that was sorta marching around and yelling … And you’re like, “Who the hell is that guy?” you know? And someone said, “Oh, that’s Michael Barisone.” … He was passionate. He was loud. But he was a big teddy bear, too.
Barisone knew he was a good rider. He also knew he was an even better coach.
Boyd Martin: And as a coach, having someone … that’s got a track record, that’s been there and done it … It’s a wonderful thing.
The demand for Barisone allowed him to acquire two magnificent farms to accommodate a sport rich enough to chase the seasons.
Fifteen to 45 minutes outside of Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Florida, is Barisone’s winter headquarters.
Lara Osborne: Michael’s larger than life.
Jordan Osborne: While he is that, he’s also so down to earth.
Jordan Osborne, her mother Lara, Chelsea Westra and their horses, too, have all been coached by Barisone in a sport that’s all about discipline and restraint.
Nikki Battiste: Control?
Jordan Osborne: Uh-huh. Lot of control.
Dressage dreams also brought all three women to the jewel in their champion’s crown: 53 acres of prime New Jersey horse country. An equestrian paradise. Michael Barisone called it Hawthorne Hill.
Jordan Osborne: You had dozens of horses. These beautiful rolling green pastures. An outdoor arena, a huge beautiful indoor arena. The barn was huge.
And come 2019, Jordan Osborne and Westra had become “working students,” living above the barn and taking care of the horses 24-7 in exchange for lessons from an Olympian.
Chelsea Westra: Yeah. That is the dream, you know? … To train with someone who is one of the best in the world.
Lauren Kanarek had her own dressage dreams of becoming a champion.
Lauren Kanarek [with horse]: See it’s good to bow your head and then they know that you mean them no harm.
At 37, Kanarek knew exactly what she needed and wanted.
Nikki Battiste: In seeking a top trainer what were you looking for?
Lauren Kanarek: In seeking a top trainer, I’m looking for somebody who I think’s gonna push me, someone who has been there and done that.
It seemed to describe Michael Barisone to a T. So, Kanarek made her way to Hawthorne Hill hoping Barisone was the one.
Lauren Kanarek: There’s a million different reasons or things that could make a trainer relationship work or not work.
But few could imagine how Barisone and Kanarek would soon clash and crash and burn.
It is their love for horses that led Kanarek and Barisone’s paths to cross. It would twist into a road to ruin — something neither could have imagined, when each first climbed into a saddle.
Nikki Battiste: Tell me about Lauren Kanarek, the little girl who fell in love with horses.
Lauren Kanarek: It all started in a barn (laughs).
“48 Hours” met up with Kanarek at a small horse farm in Wellington, Florida.
Nikki Battiste: How old were you?
Lauren Kanarek: Probably two or three when I first saw or got — like rode on a horse. … And I like never stopped thinking about them, basically.
Nikki Battiste: That was it.
Lauren Kanarek: That was it.
Jonathan Kanarek: I did have a little girl dreaming of a pony.
Nikki Battiste: And her love for horses and riding began?
Jonathan Kanarek: Yep.
Lauren’s father, retired Wall Street attorney Jon Kanarek, took fast note of his daughter’s determination.
Jonathan Kanarek: Lauren really wanted to do this.
Lauren Kanarek: I always knew I was gonna get my own horse.
And at the end of high school –
Lauren Kanarek: You know, one day I was just like, “this is happening.”
Nikki Battiste: What was that like?
Lauren Kanarek: That was amazing!
Jonathan Kanarek: The first of her many dreams which came true (laughs).
Lauren Kanarek: It is a fairy tale, but with it comes great responsibility. … ’cause you have your horse to take care of.
Lauren Kanarek took the reins and headed towards the ballet movements of dressage.
Lauren Kanarek: Dressage means training in French. … It’s dancing with horses … It’s about harmony.
Jonathan Kanarek wasn’t quite sure what dancing horses was all about.
Jonathan Kanarek: Well, my experience with horses, you know, was win, place, show. You know, like at Belmont.
As Lauren won her first amateur ribbons, dressage superstar Barisone was a spokesman for the sport, even educating a bemused Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report” in 2012.
STEPHEN COLBERT [“The Colbert Report”]: Is this how you start it? You just pull this like a lawn mower?
Nikki Battiste: Do you think you’ve gotten to that point where you are the best rider you can be?
Lauren Kanarek: Definitely not.
In March 2018, the Olympian was hosting a clinic for aspiring riders at his Florida horse farm. Lauren Kanarek signed up.
Christopher Schellhorn: And while she was there, Michael Barisone approached her, apparently saw that … maybe she had some aptitude, and asked her to come and train with him at that point.
Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn and defense lawyers Ed Bilinkas and Chris Deininger would eventually become adversaries, immersed in the lives of Barisone and Kanarek.
Nikki Battiste: Why did she wanna ride with Michael?
Ed Bilinkas: Everyone wants to ride with Michael.
Christopher Schellhorn: So, she decided to have her horses boarded at his farm and decided to go train with him.
Jonathan Kanarek: Barisone said, you know, “We can go places. Come up and, you know, leave yourself in my hands.”
It was an offer that couldn’t be refused.
Jonathan Kanarek: The arrangement was $5,000 a month. She had two horses in training at that point in time.
Michael Barisone agreed to speak with “48 Hours” with the support of his attorneys. On the day we talked with him, he appeared calm. While he says he has no memory of the crime, he does remember the events leading up to it at Hawthorne Hill.
Michael Barisone: This was my life … That was my home. I built that from scratch. … That was a labor of love.
Barisone provided housing there for Lauren Kanarek and her boyfriend, Rob Goodwin.
Michael Barisone: And I said, “Alright. As long as they’re in training, I’ll throw in an apartment.”
Nikki Battiste: That seems very generous.
Michael Barisone: We all have bills to pay.
Overnight, Lauren Kanarek wasn’t just training with Barisone; she and Goodwin were living with him.
Ed Bilinkas: And that was different than any other arrangement that he had with anyone else.
The apartment was in the white farmhouse that Barisone shared with his assistant trainers Justin Hardin and Mary Haskins Gray, a respected Grand Prix rider and a divorced mother of two.
Michael Barisone: We lived together. She was my partner. … I thought we were going to have a life together.
Jordan Osborne: She was Michael’s girlfriend and the assistant trainer at the barn.
Nikki Battiste: Mary had two young children that lived there with her and with Michael.
Jordan Osborne: At times, yes.
Nikki Battiste: How was Michael’s relationship with Mary’s young kids?
Jordan Osborne: He loved them. Yeah, he adored them. … And they really adored him.
It all must have given Lauren great expectations. The child who dreamed of a pony was now the student of a dressage master.
Christopher Schellhorn: She was even posting pictures on Facebook of her and Michael Barisone.
Lauren Kanarek: I knew at least this could work out for a time and be good. So why not try it out?
Jonathan Kanarek: And it was supposed to be a great relationship. And it was for a long time.
Barisone found that Lauren could be demanding … still nothing unusual.
Michael Barisone: We all have difficult clients. … They’re not all gonna be easy relationships.
Lauren Kanarek: You know there’s sayings like … “Go as far as you can see and then you can see farther.” And that’s kind of what I live by. Like I will challenge myself every single day.
Lauren Kanarek was comfortable talking about her horses and riding, but she chose not to speak to “48 Hours” about Michael Barisone and all that happened at Hawthorne Hill.
But Jordan and Lara Osborne and Chelsea Westra say by summer tension set in. And that it started with those expectations about the degree of attention the student would get from the master.
Nikki Battiste: Was part of the deal that Lauren would train exclusively with Michael?
Jonathan Kanarek:That was, you know, Lauren’s understanding. … Everyone wants to be trained by the name on the door.
Nikki Battiste: The Olympian?
Jonathan Kanarek: Yup. Exactly.
Michael Barisone: Just because we need to set the record straight here. I never exclusively trained any of my clients. … you are trained by this community. That means Justin Hardin. It means Mary Haskins. It means me.
Jordan Osborne: And it’s understood that the head trainer will help you sometimes, the assistant trainers will help you other times.
Ed Bilinkis: I think she became extremely upset when Michael’s full attention wasn’t focused on her.
Lara Osborne: Mary Haskins was the one who, in her mind, was standing in her way of getting her goals.
Nikki Battiste: Two women, both vying for Michael’s attention as one of the best trainers in the world?
Lara Osborne: Yeah. Yeah.
The tranquility of Hawthorne Hill was on track to being shattered.
Jonathan Kanarek: I just happened so fast. It was sorta — a very cold war until August 1st. … It became — a hot war.
MICHAEL BARISONE | 911 CALL | July 31, 2019: There’s a war and it’s going to be dealt with right now. I’ve had enough of these people. I need them gone!
Nikki Battiste: How important is trust in your relationship with your horses?
Lauren Kanarek: It’s really important.
Lauren Kanarek, Michael Barisone and his staff had the trust of their horses. But over summer 2019, all human trust began to fray, and would soon rip apart.
Christopher Schellhorn: The fact that they were … all around one another almost 24-7 definitely puts some stresses on those relationships.
Nikki Battiste: How was Lauren’s relationship with Mary.
Christopher Schellhorn: I think it was very strained.
While a top trainer, Mary Haskins Gray wasn’t the Olympic champion Lauren felt she had signed up for.
Lauren Kanarek: So, a trainer needs to be someone that you can trust. And … has the best intentions for you.
It was a different kind of competition — with Lauren and Mary Haskins at the center of the contest.
Jonathan Kanarek: Jealousy. … Not romantic. You know, just didn’t like Michael giving his attention.
Nikki Battiste: She wanted to be the best and didn’t want anyone else in her way?
Ed Bilinkas: I mean Michael Barisone is the best and maybe she was hoping some of that would rub off on her.
Chris Deininger: I almost feel as though there was some level of obsessiveness there with her interest in Michael.
But Barisone’s time wasn’t the only issue. There was that $5,000 the Kanarek’s were paying him every month.
Jonathan Kanarek: Michael wanted his money and he wanted to keep his girlfriend. He had a problem.
Lauren Kanarek was upset and wasn’t going to be quiet.
Nikki Battiste: At what point does social media become an element to this strain in this relationship?
Christopher Schellhorn: Probably sometime in July of 2019.
Nikki Battiste: Elaborate.
Christopher Schellhorn: Lauren was very active on Facebook.
Lauren Kanarek launched her online offensive. She began by creating a dark Hawthorne Hill universe based on a chess board. Michael Barisone, the “King,” has been “captured and killed.” Mary Haskins, the “Queen,” must be “sacrificed to protect the castle.”
Lara Osborne: Our heads can’t comprehend what she was thinking.
Two weeks later her posts grew ominous: “Anyone who repeatedly kicks a resting beast will eventually wake her up.”
Michael Barisone: There was a fear factor building.
Lara Osborne: She was using it to terrify Michael.
Michael Barisone: She says, “It’s war. I’ve declared war on them.”
The war raged on. Lauren told her father she was concerned about her horses’ safety.
Lauren Kanarek: I mean they’re the reason I wake up in the morning, literally. They’re also the reason I can’t sleep at night, literally.
She claimed that her animals were not being treated properly.
Jonathan Kanarek: Lauren told me that — her horses are being — misfed. … You know, they were just making things — you know, very difficult for her.
Lara Osborne: You know, abusing the horses, not feeding the horses, overfeeding the horses. None of that was true.
Barisone’s supporters counter, it was Lauren violating barn rules.
Lara Osborne: She just went in the barn in the middle of the night.
Chelsea Westra: There were rumors that she was gonna do stuff to the horses and come in the middle of the night.
But according to Lauren, one of her horses needed special care. Then came a disturbing discovery. And it had nothing to do with horses.
Nikki Battiste: When did you first learn about the recording devices Lauren put in the barn?
Jordan Osborne: About mid-July we started hearing rumors and started talking.
Lauren Kanarek and her boyfriend Rob Goodwin had hidden small voice recorders at Hawthorne Hill. Lauren said she was making recordings because she was fearful of Barisone’s staff.
Nikki Battiste: What do you think Lauren was listening for?
Jordan Osborne: Anything … to help her in whatever plan she had to destroy him.
Lauren Kanarek took to Facebook and came for Barisone’s career. She branded him “racist,” “homophobic” and “antisemitic” — allegations Barisone passionately denies, but that could get him banned from the sport.
Michael Barisone: There were things coming out on social media that were horrific.
It shook him to the bone. The damage was done.
Nikki Battiste: Were the comments on social media by Lauren impacting Michael’s reputation in the equestrian world?
Michael Poulin: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Boyd Martin: So, I think we live in this world now where your reputation, or your career, or your identity can be changed like that (snaps fingers). … And it can be devastating.
The champion made his name facing down all challenges in the saddle. But he says this onslaught from Lauren Kanarek overwhelmed him.
Michael Barisone: But have somebody attack me, or somebody hurt me … and I crumble. I fall apart. I run from confrontation.
Lauren Kanarek claimed it was just the opposite.
Nikki Battiste: Lauren posted saying a 6’3″ man was bullying her, and she was fearful for her life. … Did you ever see Michael bully Lauren, threaten Lauren?
Jordan Osborne: Of course not. No. No.
Michael Poulin: Never. Never. Michael Barisone? I would stake my life and everything I got –family and everything.
Barisone says he felt unsafe in his own home. He says living under the same roof as Lauren and Rob Goodwin became impossible. Barisone and Haskins moved out of the farmhouse. Her daughter was away at camp. Now, her son was sent back to his dad.
Michael Barisone: And I had to hug him and kiss him and said, “Buddy I love you. You’re my favorite guy in the whole world. But I have to send you home. It’s not safe.”
Michael Barisone: We fled. … We moved a quarter of a mile from the house to the stables.
After welcoming Lauren Kanarek to Hawthorne Hill, it now seemed Michael Barisone wanted nothing more from her then to pack up, take her boyfriend and horses, and leave his farm.
Nikki Battiste: Why didn’t Lauren just leave?
Jonathan Kanarek: Michael never asked Lauren to leave.
Nikki Battiste: Did you ask Lauren to leave?
Michael Barisone: Many times.
Nikki Battiste: And she said?
Michael Barisone. Refused. Many, many, many, many times.
Nikki Battiste: And eventually you call 911.
Michael Barisone: Yes …
On July 31, 2019, at 9 p.m., Michael Barisone makes what would be his first of four calls to police. The Olympian pleaded for help:
911 OPERATOR 361: What’s the address of your emergency?
MICHAEL BARISONE to 911: They have chased us out of our house, and I need this dealt with tonight …
Nikki Battiste: Did you notice Michael’s demeanor start to change?
Lara Osborne: Oh, absolutely. He was spiraling out of control.
Christopher Schellhorn: His choice to get a gun … a pink and black 9 millimeter handgun. … To point that gun at Lauren and pull the trigger twice.
Michael Barisone says his paradise had turned to hell.
Michael Barisone: And I walked outside, and I walked around that building all night every night in the dark. I never stopped.
Chaos replaced control.
Lara Osborne: He wasn’t sleeping. He wasn’t eating.
Michael Poulin: You could hear it in his voice. He was cracking.
Lauren Kanarek kept up her online attack.
Nikki Battiste: You were scared?
Jordan Osborne: Yeah. Of course.
Nikki Battiste: Scared for your life?
Jordan Osborne: At times.
Again, Kanarek took to Facebook:
“Everyone should be worried. I’m not responsible for anything my other personalities do when they’re threatened.”
MICHAEL BARISONE TO 911 | August 3, 2019, 9:35 a.m.: They’re nuts. They’re stalking us, they’re harassing us.
And again, Barisone took online threats seriously and turned to police.
MICHAEL BARISONE TO 911 | August 3, 2019, 9:35 a.m.: And we are in fear for our lives.
Local cops headed over but may have seen it all as nothing more than a landlord-tenant dispute.
Nikki Battiste: When you learned that 911 calls were being made by Michael Barisone regarding your daughter, what are you thinking?
Jonathan Kanarek: I’m thinking Barisone is making, you know, bogus 911 calls.
But there was nothing “bogus” about what went down, as the sun came up on August 7. Lauren Kanarek posted.
Michael Barisone [reciting the Facebook post]: “All my moves against them have been planned for months. … Everything I’ve done to them so far has been child’s play.”
The war was about to get very ugly.
Nikki Battiste: What put Michael over the edge?
Lara Osborne: I mean we can’t say for sure. My guess is CPS coming.
Michael Barisone: And I remember a minivan driving in. And that was the lady From Child Protective Services.
It was a caseworker from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
Michael Barisone: And she said, “I need to speak with Miss Gray.” And I yelled for Mary Haskins … I said “She needs to talk to you. They’re gonna take the kids.”
Nikki Battiste: How did Child Protective Services end up at the farm?
Christopher Schellhorn: Child Protective Services was contacted by SafeSport.
SafeSport is a watchdog group authorized by Congress dedicated to ending sexual and other abuse in sports. And Lauren Kanarek had filed a complaint with them.
Christopher Schellhorn: Lauren Kanarek had made a report to SafeSport about some of the bullying that she was experiencing by Michael Barisone and by Mary Haskins Gray.
Chris Deininger: And how do you destroy someone in that community? SafeSport.
Lauren Kanarek’s complaint alleged Barisone was being a bully and body shaming her. The SafeSport form asked: “Does this report involve allegations or concerns of child abuse, or child sexual abuse.” Lauren said “Yes.” She said the abuse was verbal, not physical.
Ed Bilinkas: The breaking point is when child services show up.
The case worker was there to check on the welfare of Mary Haskin’s two children, but by now both were gone from Hawthorne Hill.
Nikki Battiste: Nothing worse than being accused of harming a child.
Ed Bilinkas: The worst thing that anyone could ever be accused of.
Nikki Battiste: Did you ever see any sign that Michael in any way abused Mary’s kids?
Jordan Osborne: No. Absolutely not. … He loved them. … And they really adored him.
Nikki Battiste: Have you ever seen any evidence that Michael Barisone abused or neglected Mary’s children or any children?
Christopher Schellhorn: I don’t think there’s any direct evidence was brought out of that.
But a suggestion of possible child sexual abuse was too much for the Olympian to bear.
Christopher Schellhorn: He jumped to the conclusion that they were to investigate him for sexual abuse … He acted emotionally … and decided that he was going to get the gun and end it by killing Lauren Kanarek.
Nikki Battiste: There’s not much worse than being accused of harming a child.
Christopher Schellhorn: Perhaps being shot.
Mary Haskins Gray and the caseworker were in Barisone’s office.
Nikki Battiste: Do you remember … going to get a gun at any point?
Michael Barisone: No. I remember going in my office.
Nikki Battiste: Was the gun in your office in a safe?
Michael Barisone: Yes.
Barisone interrupted the meeting with the social worker. He kissed Gray. He asked them both to wait outside. Then, he opened his safe, took that gun and went out the door. Michael Barisone headed down to the white farmhouse. Exactly what happened next remains unclear. But at 2:13 p.m. that same day, Lauren Kanarek called 911—-gasping for air:
LAUREN KANAREK to 911: I’ve been shot in the heart! … Michael Barisone shot me. Please help, please help …
Lauren was fighting for her life. Her boyfriend, Rob Goodwin, struggled to subdue Michael Barisone.
ROB GOODWIN [911 call]: Stop f***ing moving! Stop f***ing moving! Stop f***ing moving!
In the chaos Lauren and Rob’s dog attacked Barisone.
Cpl. Derek Heymer: There were two men on top of each other and a woman shot twice in the upper left chest and in the hand.
Corporal Derek Heymer had driven alone, straight into an active crime scene.
Cpl. Derek Heymer: I rolled Mr. Barisone over and there was a gun next to his left hand.
Nikki Battiste: What kind of gun?
Cpl. Derek Heymer: It was a Ruger, 9-millimeter Ruger handgun.
The cop grabbed the gun and tended to Lauren.
Cpl. Derek Heymer: She was pretty pale. Almost grey.
Lauren Kanarek, bleeding out, got the first ambulance. Barisone, beaten by Goodwin and cuffed by Heymer, came next. The horseman whispered five words that said everything.
Cpl. Derek Heymer: “I had a good life.” And he repeated that a couple of times.
The war at Hawthorne Hill was done. Lauren Kanarek was struggling for her life.
Jonathan Kanarek: They didn’t know if she had brain damage. … They said, “We’ve put her in a medically-induced coma.” … And she had tubes in her — all over the place.
The next day Michael Barisone was charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Jordan Osborne: He’s never been a violent person.
Lara Osborne: I said to the cops in my statement that night, she broke his brain. And she absolutely did.
Nikki Battiste: What was your reaction?
Michael Poulin: I cried.
Michael Barisone: I remember wakin’ up in a hospital bed. And I remember pulling to move out of it and my hand was handcuffed to the rail.
That detail he recalls. But again, Barisone says he does not remember shooting Lauren Kanarek.
Michael Barisone: Nothin’. Nothin’. I don’t have any recollection of that. Nothing. I don’t know what happened.
Nearly three years of legal maneuvering would come to an end in March 2022.
CHRISTOPHER SCHELLHORN | PROSECUTOR [in court]: He was furious. He was frustrated. … And he most certainly knew what he was doing was wrong when he … tried to kill them.
ED BILINKAS | DEFENSE ATTORNEY [in court]: “Help. I fear for my life.” Those are the cries for help from Michael Barisone. Those cries fell on deaf ears.
Soon the jury would hear from Lauren. And she wanted to remind them that she was the victim.
LAUREN KANAREK [in court]: I was in a coma for four days, in the ICU for three weeks, unable to speak ’cause I had a ventilator shoved down my throat. … Like my life was almost ended.
Bilinkas and Deininger set a rare strategy: Michael Barisone was temporarily insane.
Nikki Battiste: An insanity defense is not one we hear every day.
Ed Bilinkas: They hardly ever work.
Nikki Battiste: You took a risk?
Ed Bilinkas: Yup, I took a huge risk.
Christopher Schellhorn: I’ve had a number of insanity defense cases in my career.
Nikki Battiste: Did you win them?
Christopher Schellhorn: This was the first one that went to trial.
INSANE … OR FAKING IT?
Michael Barisone needed to sell Hawthorne Hill. His relationship with Mary Haskins Gray ended.
But she testified that the summer of 2019 was his time of terror.
MARY HASKINS GRAY [in court]: He continued to become more and more fearful, to unravel, to be in panic, sheer panic.
As for Barisone’s relationship with her children, Child Protective Services reported no issues. And Haskins was emphatic.
MARY HASKINS [in court]: He was wonderful to my children.
ED BILINKAS: Did Michael Barisone love your son?
MARY HASKINS: Very much.
The Olympians Barisone had trained now stood by his side.
BOYD MARTIN [in court]: You know I love the guy … He was instrumental in helping me get to my first Olympic games. … and great mentor, coach, competitor.
The lawyers’ battleground became Barisone’s brain.
Ed Bilinkas: In my mind I wanted him examined by a top-notch forensic psychiatrist.
Doctors Steven Simring and Charles Hasson spent hours examining Barisone.
Nikki Battiste: Why did he do it?
Dr. Steven Simring: She drove him crazy. She gaslighted him and she drove him over the edge.
ED BILINKAS [in court]: Did you have a plan to destroy Michael Barisone?
LAUREN KANAREK: At some point, yes.
Dr. Steven Simring: She played with his reality.
Dr. Charles Hasson: And she enjoyed playing with him. … Toying with him.
Dr. Steven Simring: And he cracked under that pressure.
Jonathan Kanarek: You have your breaking point … You don’t take a gun and try and kill two people.
Schellhorn had his own strategy and his own forensic psychologist taking a bead on Barisone, his sanity and his story.
DR. LOUIS SCHLESINGER [in court]: He claimed that he doesn’t have memory only for the criminal behavior. Only for the criminal, his memory for everything else is excellent are you kidding? … That’s a red flag!
Dr. Louis Schlesinger didn’t buy that Barisone’s mind short-circuited.
DR. LOUIS SCHLESINGER [in court]: So, what does he not remember? Getting the gun, loading the gun, driving to where Lauren was … The only thing you don’t remember is the criminal behavior? Why is that?
Dr. Steven Simring: Robert Goodwin hit him on the head … which is probably the most likely reason that he lost memory.
Lauren Kanarek testified she felt she had been lied to — prevented by Barisone from reaching her lifelong dressage dream. Barisone’s legal team says her frustration fed her appetite for revenge.
ED BILINKAS [in court]: You wanted to ruin his business, correct?
LAUREN KANAREK: I think finally, yeah, that was in my mind.
And according to Goodwin, if Lauren Kanarek did want things resolved peacefully, she never got a final chance.
ROB GOODWIN [in court]: She didn’t get to say much to Michael before he pulled out the gun. He wasn’t there for a conversation. He was there to kill us —
At the center of this arena sat Barisone. Silent. Teary. Ragged.
Christopher Schellhorn: He looked very different at the time of the trial than he did at any other point before that.
Jonathan Kanarek: It was a joke. … You know, they had him ready for the insanity defense.
After almost two weeks, the lawyers rested. Four tense days passed.
JUDGE TAYLOR: With regard to count one, attempted murder of Lauren Kanarek what is your verdict?
JUROR: Not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ed Bilinkas: Him crumbling and falling into my arms — I feel emotional just talking about it. There is nothing greater in life than that feeling.
Chris Deininger: It’s unfathomable how satisfying it is when it goes the right way and you win.
ED BILINKAS [exclaims outside of the courthouse]: It’s a great day in the legal system today. Michael Barisone not guilty by reason of insanity.
Nikki Battiste: What does not guilty by reason of insanity mean?
Ed Bilinkas: It means he’s not responsible for his conduct.
The jury ruled that at the time of the incident Michael Barisone was insane. They were not charged with deciphering the distressed man sitting before them.
Nikki Battiste: What was Lauren’s reaction to the verdict?
Jonathan Kanarek: Shocked. Dismayed. Couldn’t believe it.
Nikki Battiste: Lauren is the victim in this story. Has that been lost?
Jonathan Kanarek: I think so unfortunately, that’s been lost. … People in the sport think Michael Barisone has been vindicated.
Ed Bilinkas: She drove Michael Barisone crazy. … Who does that to another individual. Michael Barisone is a victim.
When “48 Hours” spoke with Barisone it was just hours after the verdict. No longer looking at 80 years in prison, he seemed a different person. He had just checked in with the nurse.
Michael Barisone: And she said, “How are you feeling? And I said, “well, interestingly enough, it’s probably the best day of my life.” You know?
Then the fallen horseman turned reflective.
Michael Barisone: I’m lost. I’m a ship without a rudder. The world I knew isn’t any longer there. … So, I have to rebuild a new world.
That won’t ever happen if attorney Bruce Nagel has his way. He is suing Barisone on Lauren’s behalf.
Bruce Nagel: And I can tell you that the only temporary insanity that was in the courtroom was in that jury box. He was a complete faker. A complete fraud.
Lara Osborne: He was absolutely 100% not acting.
Ed Bilinkas: No, no strategy there. That is Michael Barisone.
And within weeks after of the verdict, Barisone was transferred to a psychiatric hospital.
Michael Barisone’s supporters hope they will soon get the chance to welcome him home.
Nikki Battiste: When you think about the day he might walk back in here, how do you envision that?
‘Jordan Osborne: A lot of tears.
Lara Osborne: Yeah, a lot of tears from everyone. … They’ll be happy to see him.
Lara Osborne: Absolutely. Horses are great healers.
Nikki Battiste: At some point your relationship with Michael changed.
Lara Osborne: Yes, it did.
Across the walls of a jail, Lara Osborne and Michael Barisone became a couple.
Nikki Battiste: Couldn’t go on a date.
Lara Osborne: No No certainly couldn’t go on a date … Hopefully that will change soon.
Nikki Battiste: Have you learned anything about your daughter through all of this?
Jonathan Kanarek: She’s even tougher than I thought. … it is a miracle.
Nikki Battiste: Where will we see Lauren Kanarek in 10 years?
Lauren Kanarek: Hopefully still on a horse while I’m 51 years old. … And hopefully I’ll have a lot more horses.
Michael Barisone: I want everyone in this whole thing to go on and have beautiful lives. Everyone. I only want everyone to do well with the dreams that they have.
Michael Barisone was evaluated at the psychiatric hospital.
Just last week, a judge ruled that he should be transferred to a less restrictive facility for the next six months, when a hearing will be held to check his progress.
Produced by James Stolz. Alicia Tejada and Marc Goldbaum are the development producers. Michael Loftus is the field producer. Gregory Kaplan, Wini Dini and Michael Baluzy are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.