TIPPECANOE COUNTY — The lawyer for a man accused of abandoning his adopted daughter and leaving the country has filed to have the charges against his client dismissed.
The motion to dismiss was filed in Tippecanoe County Superior Court on Monday.
Michael Barnett is facing two separate charges of neglect of a dependent after investigators claim he and his now ex-wife adopted a young girl in 2010 and then abandoned her in 2013 after having her age changed from 8 years old to 22 years old.
The first count of neglect of a dependent, a level 6 felony, defined as putting a dependent in a situation that endangers their life. The second count of neglect of a dependent, a level 5 felony, is defined as abandoning or cruelly confining the dependent.
Barnett's attorney, Terrance Kinnard, says there’s more to the story than meets the eye. He believes his client and his wife, at the time, were the victims of fraud when they were led into the adoption back in 2010.
Kinnard has filed a motion to have both charges of neglect against Barnett dismissed. His filing states the first count should be dismissed "with prejudice" because the charges fall out of the statute of limitations in the state of Indiana. He says the second count should be dismissed because the information provided in the charge is inaccurate. The state would then have the option to refile with "sufficient specificity."
In his motion, Kinnard claims a "law enforcement agent," who was believed to have been with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office, was present and provided sworn testimony at the hearing in 2012 where a judge ruled that the adopted girl's age and birthday would be legally changed to reflect her adult status. He also claims the state attempted to open a "Child in Need of Services" case in May 2013, but the state ruled that they could not "meet its burden of demonstrating that (the girl) is a child under the age of 18..." and the case was dismissed.
The argument to dismiss the charges includes the fact that the state was aware that the girl's birth date had been changed when they filed charges claiming Barnett had tried to conceal the information. It also claims the statue of limitations for a level 6 felony has passed the allotted five years and challenges the state's reasoning for extending that statute.
A hearing for the motion has been set for October 15.