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Court grants motion to dismiss neglect charges in Lafayette abandonment case

Michael Barnett.JPG
Posted at 10:54 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 22:55:00-04

LAFAYETTE — A Tippecanoe County judge has granted in part a motion to dismiss neglect of a dependent charges against an Indianapolis man as part of a child abandonment case that has sparked global interest.

Michael Barnett and his now ex-wife Kristina Barnett were both charged in September 2019 with multiple counts of neglect related to their adopted daughter Natalia, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine in 2010.

In an order filed Tuesday in Tippecanoe Superior Court, Judge Steven Meyer ruled that multiple neglect charges that stemmed from the state's assertion that Natalia was a minor at the time of the alleged neglect be dismissed based on a legal doctrine that prohibits a court from re-litigating a settled issue.

Twice — in a Marion County court in 2012 and again in a Hamilton County court in 2013 — a court ruled Natalia was an adult. The Marion County ruling was affirmed in 2017 and the state of Indiana did not challenge the ruling.

Meyer also granted a motion to dismiss three of the charges based on statute of limitations.

While the court ruled to dismiss the neglect charges that allege Natalia was a juvenile, Meyer also ruled that Tippecanoe County prosecutors may proceed if they choose on its allegation Natalia was a dependent because of a physical disability. Natalia has a form of dwarfism.

Prosecutors alleged the Barnett family moved to Canada in 2013 and abandoned Natalia in a Lafayette apartment for the next three years.

The Barnetts have alleged Natalia was really an adult who had tried to hurt and kill them on multiple occasions.