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Charges dismissed against mother accused of abandoning adopted daughter in Lafayette

A jury previously found Michael Barnett not guilty on neglect of a dependent charges in October 2022.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Charges were dismissed Friday against a woman who was accused of abandoning her adopted daughter in Lafayette.

According to online court records, a motion to dismiss charges against Kristine Barnett was filed Thursday, March 23, and the order was signed Friday, March 24. Kristine's jury trial, scheduled for April 10, was subsequently canceled.

Kristine and her ex-husband, Michael Barnett, were charged in 2019 with neglect of a dependent for allegedly leaving their daughter, Natalia Barnett, in an apartment. They adopted the girl in 2010. 

A jury found Michael not guilty in October 2022.

"I can breathe," Michael said in an exclusive interview with 13News. "I haven't been able to breathe in a very long time."

Michael and Kristine said they weren't guilty of child neglect and that Natalia was lying about how old she was. Their attorney argued that the 8-year-old girl they adopted was actually a young-looking adult woman with a form of dwarfism.

"Through a series of scientific and medical tests, it was determined that this person was not a minor child at 6 years of age but may have been as old as 20 to 22 years of age," the attorney said in a 2019 interview.

Natalia claimed she was abandoned in a Tippecanoe County apartment when she was 8 years old.

Natalia and her new adoptive parents defended accusations that she pretended to be a little girl to get adopted.

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