TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)-Michael and Kristine Barnett have had six felony counts dismissed by a Tippecanoe County judge. As we previously reported the former couple had been charged in a years-long investigation. They were accused of abandoning a girl in a Lafayette apartment and then leaving for Canada. Prosecutors say Michael and Kristine Barnett also legally changed the Ukrainian girl's presumed age from 8-years-old to 22-years-old.
According to court documents, the 2017 Marion Court decision to change the couple’s former daughter Natalia’s age to 22 years of age was binding upon the State. This ruling was made because the state of Indiana had the opportunity to participate in the proceedings to challenge the age change but did not. Therefore all charges related to neglect in regards to Natalia’s age have been dismissed.
The charges that have been dismissed include Counts I through VI.
The reasoning is because those charges rely upon Natalia being a dependent because of her age. However, the State may proceed, if it so chooses, on its allegation that Natalia was dependent because of physical disability. Meaning the state can still try both Michael and Kristine Barnett for a Class D felony and a Level 6 felony. The class D felony has a maximum of 3 years in prison if convicted and the Level 6 felony has a maximum of 2.5 years in prison if convicted.
News 18 spoke with Terrance Kinnard the lawyer representing Michael Barnett, said he believes that the state is expected to appeal the dismissal. However, they can’t appeal the original ruling to change Natalia’s age because the statute of limitations has ran out for that process. Click HERE to read the full order for dismissal.