State seeks gag order request for Michael and Kristine Barnett

The motion requests a gag order be placed on certain information being shared with the media.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019 9:55 AM
Updated: Oct 21, 2019 1:56 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The State of Indiana has requested a gag order be placed on Michael and Kristine Barnett in their ongoing child neglect case. Prosecutors are requesting the order be placed on any documents, medical/mental health records or educational records received from sources other than the state. 

The motion also requests a gag order be placed on information being shared with the media.


Michael and Kristine Barnett appear in Tippecanoe County to plead not guilty on Sept. 27

The home on N. 11th Street in Lafayette where court documents say the Barnett girl lived. The home is divided into several apartments. Photo: Trevor Peters

The state is concerned that Michael and Kristine Barnett, or their attorneys, will release information in medical or educational records, according to court documents. 

The motion says under Indiana law, a gag order to prevent the accused from speaking to the media before a trial can be issued if there is a "reasonable likelihood that pretrial publicity will prejudice a fair trial."

For a gag order to go into effect, three things must be shown, according to the motion.

First, the substantial likelihood of prejudice to a fair trial must be proven. Second, the documents say the order must be drawn so that it only restricts speech to the extent necessary to get a fair trial. The documents say parties can still assert innocence and make general statements about the allegations. They can also discuss matters that are public record.

Lastly, the documents say the gag order must be the least restrictive means of remedying the potential for extensive pretrial publicity. Other options for "curing" publicity include a change of venue, jury sequestration, a delayed trial, etc., according to prosecutors.

"Given the extensiveness of the media coverage already — in sheer number of reports, the various media they have appeared in, and their broad geographic scope (as several of the interviews have been broadcast over national media) — it is apparent that no "curative" measures would be adequate. Potential jurors from all over the state will potentially be exposed to the coverage, so a change of venue would be unhelpful...," the documents read.

Prosecutors note that a quick Google search reveals more than 70 articles in multiple languages regarding the Barnett case. 

A hearing is set for Wednesday. 

Michael and Kristine Barnett pleaded not guilty to two counts of child neglect. 

Prosecutors allege the Barnetts, now separated, adopted a girl from Ukraine, legally changed her age and left her in a Lafayette apartment before moving to Canada. The girl has a form of dwarfism. News 18 is choosing not to name the girl due to age uncertainty.

The family lived in Hamilton County, and a friend of Kristine Barnett tells News 18 the couple had a "traumatic adoption experience" with the girl. The friend said the girl tried to physically harm the family multiple times. The Barnetts soon believed they were scammed into the adoption, according to the friend. The family said the girl's dwarfism may have disguised her real age.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Barnetts had the girl's age tested, according to prosecutors. Court documents cite two doctors' reports from Peyton Manning Children's Hospital showing the girl's age to be about 8-years-old in 2010 and 11-years-old in 2012.

However, a doctor's report from IU Health, provided by Kristine Barnett, said otherwise. The report said the girl's records from Ukraine were "grossly incomplete."

"The birth certificate that was given to the Barnetts showed a date of birth of 9/4/3. This date is clearly inaccurate," the report said.

The report goes on to say the girl had been seen by a dentist and neuropsychologist, both of which determined she had characteristics of a full-grown adult.

The Barnetts' son Jacob, a physics prodigy, was the feature of a "60 Minutes" report in 2012 highlighting the child's successes. The boy was offered to continue his education at the Perimeter Institute in Canada. The report even appears to show the girl.

Before they left, prosecutors said the Barnetts had the girl's age legally changed from 8-years-old to 22 in June 2012. That would make the girl 30-years-old now in the eyes of the state.

West Lafayette
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Kokomo
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 91°
Rensselaer
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Fowler
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 64°
Frankfort
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 66°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 95°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 95°
Logansport
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 64°
Active Weather Pattern for the Work Week.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events