The adoptive parents of & # 39; leave & # 39; Natalia Barnett first appeared in court today to neglect criminal conviction for dumping her and moving to Canada.
And in a fresh turn, prosecutors hint that 3ft tall Natalia & # 39; s true age was not crucial to their case because the couple could still be convicted of dumping a mentally or physically handicapped adult under Indiana law.
They say that Kristine and Michael Barnett rented an apartment for their adoptive daughter, who has a rare form of dwarfism, and then broke all contact when they moved abroad in 2013.
According to accusation documents, Natalia born in Ukraine was a minor child and & # 39; dependent & # 39; of the couple when they left her to take care of themselves in Lafayette, Indiana.
Kristine Barnett (photo) 45, and Michael Barnett, 43, appeared on Friday at the Tippecanoe County Court in Indiana for abandonment of a crime due to the & # 39; abandoned & # 39; of their adopted daughter
The couple – who have since divorced – claimed to be the victims of fraud and claim that the daughter they adopted in 2010 is actually an adult who disguises a child
Prosecutors suggested that the true age of Natalia Grace Barnett – who was set at 30 – was not crucial to their case because the couple could be sentenced for leaving a mentally or physically disabled adult.
However, parent writer Kristine, 45, has sensationally claimed that Natalia was actually an adult posing as a child because of a serious psychiatric illness.
She maintains that her family is the real victims, after being scammed in 2010 to adopt a sociopathic adult, who they thought was a six-year-old girl.
The Barnetts, who have been divorced since then, admit to leaving her behind and moving to Canada so that their eldest son Jacob, a prodigy with autism, could go to college there.
But the estranged couple say that Natalia was legally considered an adult by that time after she received a court warrant in 2012 that revised her age from eight to 22 on the advice of medical experts.
Kristine Barnett looked anxious and anxious this morning when she and fellow suspect Michael Barnett, 43, appeared together at the Tippecanoe Magistrates Court.
The mother of the three, who wore a flower blouse, white pants and a black jacket, refused to answer questions from reporters on arrival and repeatedly said & # 39; no comment & # 39 ;.
She shook her head and looked closely in tears as magistrate Daniel J. Moore read the two counts of crime neglect he said could hold a combined maximum prison sentence of five and a half years.
Michael Barnett surrendered to the authorities on September 18 and was released on bail of $ 5,000. A hearing is scheduled for 2 September. Kristine Barnett surrendered to the authorities on Thursday, September 19, and was released after placing a $ 5,500 bond
The couple said they showered Natalia with attention, brought her to Disney World, enjoyed ice creams, treats and playful pillow fights with her three brothers to slowly take her out of her shell
Natalia with baby face – an effervescent 16-year-old girl or a 30-year-old woman, depending on who you believe – was not present at today's hearing
Asked if she understood, Kristine Barnett composed herself and answered with a relentless voice: & # 39; Yes, honor & # 39 ;.
In what could be a critical factor in the case, prosecutor Jackie Starbuck told the court that the Indiana criminal code can apply to people of any age who are mentally or physically disabled.
& # 39; I just want to write that down & # 39 ;, she said. & # 39; There are two different definitions of a dependent, a disabled person or a child. & # 39;
Starbuck also asked Kristine Barnett why she didn't arrive with a lawyer in court.
& # 39; They have a legal date again. I held him yesterday, & the platinum-blonde defendant replied.
Moore then emphasized the importance of having a lawyer and explained: & # 39; If you choose to represent yourself, you will be held to the same standards as a lawyer. & # 39;
A relaxed Michael Barnett smiled at the press, although he refused to speak when he entered the court hand in hand with his new partner.
His lawyer Terrence Kinnard pushed back against the prosecutor and said he would submit a motion asking them if they would consider Natalia a child or just a handicapped adult.
DailyMail.com can reveal that the devout couple are aware of the questions that are about the true age of their Ukrainian & # 39; daughter & # 39; whirl – but refused to comment when they were approached
Social media photos show that they were recorded by the Christian couple Antwon Mans (photo) 36, and wife Cynthia, and their five children in a suburb of Indianapolis
"From now on it is only a broad statement and we will ask exactly what these charges are," he told the court.
Kinnard later worked on his point and told reporters that the couple denied that they had neglected Natalia and & # 39; with loss & # 39; were about suggestions that they were legally responsible for when they left for Canada.
& # 39; From the discovery and investigation that we have conducted, it is clear to us that they are in fact the victims of a fraud or trick committed on them when they first asked to adopt this person who allegedly was a child, while in fact she wasn't, & he said.
& # 39; The courts have stated that she is in fact an adult based on the evidence that they heard at hearings in 2012 and 2017, but we have no evidence that this person was ever honest about what her real age is.
& # 39; We have anecdotal reports that she has also indicated to other people that she was an adult.
& # 39; We are in the position of filing a motion asking for a more definitive explanation of what the actual dependence on this person is and what they claim existed when my client would have neglected her. & # 39;
Kinnard said he would also like to drop Natalia herself, of which he said that she had already & # 39; a few years & # 39; had not seen.
He added: “They still hold her in their hearts, they still believe she is a person who deserves love and support.
New family: Natalia Grace Barnett (right) now lives with her new family who took her in after she claimed that her parents had left her in 2013
The dedicated couple is aware of the questions that are about the true age of their Ukrainian & # 39; daughter & # 39; whirl – but refused to comment when they were approached
& # 39; They never robbed her, but they are still in this position. & # 39;
Kristine and Michael Barnett are not allowed to leave Indiana, use drugs or alcohol or contact Natalia prior to their jury decision on January 28 next year.
Prosecutors had cited the results of two bone density tests conducted at Natalia at the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in 2010 and 2012.
The first estimated she was about eight years old, while the second suggested she was 11.
However, Kinnard submitted an application last week for the release of Natalia's mental health documents so that they could be part of his defense.
The petition will remain sealed and will be decided during a closed hearing on October 15.
Natalia with the baby – either an effervescent 16-year-old girl or a 30-year-old woman, depending on who you believe – was not present at today's hearing.
DailyMail.com revealed this week that she is now living with a Christian couple from Indiana and their five children.
Her new & # 39; father & # 39 ;, 36-year-old Antwon Mans, was recently ordained a pastor and lives in a former parsonage with his wife Cynthia, 39, a former manager of McDonald's.
The dedicated couple is aware of the questions that are about the true age of their Ukrainian & # 39; daughter & # 39; swirl, which is hardly longer than a toddler due to bone disorder spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia.
But images on social media make it clear that they treat the shrinking woman like a child, dress her in colorful children's clothes and add a photo of Natalia and a young playmate: & # 39; dearest best friends ever & # 39 ;.
& # 39; The Manses take care of Natalia and she likes being there, & # 39; told a family friend to DailyMail.com. & # 39; There is nothing crazy about this or that. These are good people.
Toevallig They happened to meet this person who was not treated well and took enough care to make sure that something was done about it.
& # 39; If it is true that her parents have abandoned her, it is terrible. & # 39;
The Manses tried to become Natalia's legal guardians in 2016, describing themselves as her & # 39; caretakers & # 39; but later withdrew their petition.
Nevertheless, Natalia has remained a fixture in their lives ever since. She appeared at family outings, went to church with them, and regularly played Facebook updates.
Kristine and Michael Barnett were experienced foster parents when they decided to adopt Natalia in April 2010, believing that she was in the US for two years and six years old.
Michael Barnett and Kristine, pictured in October 2011. Michael was divorced from Kristine in 2014 and remarried
Michael Barnett is pictured with his new daughter Natalia in Florida in May 2010, just days after he picked her up at the adoption center
The building in Lafayette, Indiana where the apartment of Natalia was located. The Barnetts paid an annual rent for Natalia to live there
They claim that they quickly had doubts about her true age, but when they found out she had her public, got her period and had a vocabulary beyond her years.
When Natalia began to experience mental health problems, they sought the advice of experts who agreed that she was probably much older than her birth certificate suggested.
Medical reports from 2012 show that Natalia had admitted & # 39; at least 18 years & # 39; and & # 39; maintained age misconceptions to be treated as a child by parents and strangers & # 39 ;.
In the same year, Kristine and Michael Barnett filed a petition with the Marian Superior Court to review Natalia's date of birth.
With the stroke of a right pen, her birthday was legally changed from September 4, 2003 to September 4, 1989, which changed Natalia's age from eight to 22.
Kristine Barnett says that this meant that her adopted daughter could finally get the right treatment she needed as an adult.
By that time, she told DailyMail.com that Natalia had attacked other children, poured bleach into her coffee, and threatened to stab relatives and hide their bodies in the backyard.
& # 39; She stood above people in the middle of the night. You could not go to sleep. We had to hide all sharp objects, & # 39; said Barnett in our exclusive interview.
Zag I saw her put chemicals, bleach, Windex into my coffee and I asked her, what are you doing? She said: I'm trying to poison you. & # 39;
& # 39; The media is painting me to be a child abuser, but there is no child here. & # 39;
However, prosecutors see things very differently, accusing the couple of neglect of crime by endangering the life or health of a dependent and denying her the necessary support and training.
A statement of probable cause obtained by DailyMail.com refers to an interview in 2014 with Natalia, who told a detective that her parents left her alone in the apartment in Lafayette and she never saw them again.
It also claims that Michael Barnett admitted to a detective that he knew she was a minor when he and his wife moved to Canada.
His lawyer pushed back against that accusation and told DailyMail.com that he had not given such permission.
Bishop Mans and his wife appear to have entered Natalia's life sometime between 2013 and early 2016 when they submitted their application to become her legal guardians.
& # 39; Natalia Grace Barnett is unable to maintain and take care of her financial affairs and person, since she is in fact a minor who has been abandoned by her adoptive parents & # 39 ;, is the March 2016 file.
When Michael Barnett filed an objection, the Manses tried the court's decision in 2012 that Natalia had again & # 39; been outdated & # 39; invalid and asked a new judge to restore her original date of birth.
Details of the subsequent April 2016 hearing remain confidential, but Kinnard, the only lawyer involved who was willing to discuss the proceedings, said the application was rejected.
Bishop Mans and his wife this week refused to refuse an hour from Indianapolis outside their rented four-bed home to discuss Natalia's case with DailyMail.com.
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