NJ horse farm tenants were shot after child abuse call, lawyer claims
MORRISTOWN — A judge declined Wednesday to release a former Olympic equestrian charged with shooting and wounding a woman at his training center, while the man's lawyer claimed he was the target of threats and harassment by the victim and her fiance.
Michael Barisone is charged with two counts of attempted murder in the shooting last week at his farm in the Long Valley section of Washington Township, where he trains horses and riders.
The 54-year-old appeared in court wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit and with his left arm in a sling, the result of a confrontation with the fiance, who wrestled him to the ground after Barisone allegedly shot at him, too, but missed.
Since New Jersey eliminated cash bail, prosecutors must show why defendants charged with some crimes, including attempted murder, should not be released pending trial.
Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor said Wednesday that Barisone still poses a danger to others and possibly to himself. He noted police reports that said Barisone kept repeating, "I had a good life" as he was being arrested.
"That's a rather fatalistic statement on his part, and one that is troubling to the court," Taylor said. "I think he does pose a continuing danger, perhaps to himself and certainly to the victims."
Police had been called several times to the home in the 10 days leading to the shooting, according to a criminal complaint.
Meanwhile, an attorney for Barisone referred several times to the victims as "the alleged victims" and said they, in fact, were the ones who threatened and harassed Barisone, who had made several of the calls to police.
The couple had been living and training horses at Barisone's property since last year but had violated a verbal agreement to leave once they were finished with the training, attorney Jeffrey Simms said.
The dispute, he said, turned ugly, and the couple even made a false claim of child abuse pertaining to the two young children of Barisone's partner who lived with him.
"They said, 'We're going to destroy you,'" Simms said, adding that the shooting occurred soon after a child services investigator arrived at the property.
The woman is still in intensive care at Morristown Medical Center, Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn told the judge Wednesday.