On August 27, 2019, ex-Olympian and current equestrian trainer Michael Barisone allegedly shot Lauren Kanarek twice in the chest while she was being trained on Barisone's horse farm in Long Valley, NJ. In December 2020, the woman who allegedly provided the gun, Ruth Cox, entered a 36-month Pre-Trial Intervention Agreement with prosecutors, agreeing to cooperate with them in return for dismissal of her related gun charges.
As the Morristown Daily Record reports, Cox is a co-owner with Barisone of one of the horses on his equestrian farm. Police say that 2-3 days before the shooting, Cox brought Barisone a pink and black 9mm Ruger handgun she owned because he had asked to see it. She claimed not to have seen the gun again until it was recovered at the scene of the shooting, at which point she acknowledged to police that it was her gun. It was later confirmed to be the weapon used in the attack. Barisone now faces two charges of attempted murder and related weapons offenses; Cox was charged with a fourth-degree offense for unlawfully transferring a firearm. Once Cox completes the term of her PTI, the charge against her will be dismissed, and she will avoid prison.
How Pre-Trial Intervention Works
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is an alternative to traditional criminal prosecution, giving eligible defendants the opportunity to avoid prison by completing a set of court-mandated requirements that are tailored to each individual case. PTIs typically include community service, classes on decision making and anger management, restitution, and other services based on the circumstances behind the offense. An attorney can help clients determine whether they are eligible for PTI. The attorney can also negotiate with prosecutors to determine what requirements would be set as part of a PTI. If a defendant violates the terms of the agreement, such as by failing to report for community service, he or she may face prosecution on the original charges.
How Does PTI Help in Cases Like Cox's?
PTI helps defendants avoid prison in cases of lesser offenses where incarceration is not necessary for public safety. In Cox's case, she was not directly associated with the murder attempt and was not on the scene at the time of the shooting—so prosecutors would have a difficult time painting her as an accomplice. She merely presented the gun to Barisone at his request, and while no motive is specifically mentioned, it is quite plausible that she was unaware of his intentions to use the weapon, or indeed may have been aware that she was breaking the law in handing it to him. Because of these variables, and because of Cox's willingness to cooperate with prosecutors on the Barisone case, she is a good candidate for a PTI program because she is unlikely to repeat the offense, and it ultimately saves her from a criminal record she likely does not deserve.
If you've been charged with a third- or fourth-degree indictable offense in New Jersey and you have no prior convictions, you may qualify for Pre-Trial Intervention. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help determine your eligibility and coordinate your application for PTI. Call today at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your case.