LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Michael Barnett, the father accused of abandoning his adopted daughter in Lafayette before moving from Westfield to Canada has been found not guilty of neglect.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching the verdict Thursday.
Michael and Kristine Barnett were charged in 2019 after their adopted daughter, who is from Ukraine and has dwarfism, said she was left at an apartment in Lafayette in 2013 when they moved to Canada.
Prosecutors said she was “entirely dependent on the Barnetts” and there was “no one she knew she could turn to for help.”
But defense attorneys argued “she wanted nothing to do with the Barnetts. She had moved on. … It’s her independent choice.”
The now-divorced couple, had claimed the adoption was a “scam,” and the girl is actually an adult who has made a career out of fooling people into thinking she’s a young girl.
Kristine told Daily Mail they agreed to an emergency adoption from an adoption center in Florida. They didn’t know many details about the girl’s background. They just knew she needed a home immediately because her previous adoptive parents gave her up for undisclosed reasons.
Within the first few weeks, Kristine told Daily Mail there were signs their new daughter wasn’t actually a young girl.
However, attorneys and witnesses weren’t allowed to debate her age. She testified she was born in 1989, or about 21 years old at adoption.
Both sides are under a gag order ahead of Kristine Barnett’s jury trial in 2023.