The saga of Natalia Grace is one that has enraptured the interest of people around the globe.
Inquiries and controversies swirl around her adoption by Michael and Kristine Barnett and the purported abandonment that Natalia endured.
Natalia Grace’s situation only became more intricate when the Barnetts alleged that she was an adult masquerading as a child.
The entire ordeal has resulted in Michael and Kristine facing accusations of neglecting a dependent.
In this piece, we delve into the case of Kristine Barnett and the events leading up to it in detail.
Occurrences leading up to the court case
The Barnetts, who resided in Indiana at the time, adopted Natalia Grace in 2010. She had a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal and was six years old at the time of her adoption.
Shortly after, the couple became increasingly suspicious of Natalia and believed she was not the age they were told.
They accused Natalia of showing signs of puberty and attempting to harm them. The family moved to Canada in 2013 and left Natalia behind in an apartment.
Accusations and court case
In September 2019, Michael Barnett was arrested for neglecting a dependent after prosecutors alleged that he and Kristine had abandoned Natalia.
Later in November of the same year, Kristine faced the same accusations.
Both of them faced three felony counts of neglect of a dependent. However, the prosecution could not pursue accusations of neglect of a child due to the court-ordered age change of Natalia.
The court case took place in September 2022, with Michael facing three accusations of neglect and one allegation of conspiracy to commit neglect.
Furthermore, the court case lasted a little over a week and concluded with the jury finding him not guilty of all four accusations.
According to Fox News, the jury deliberated for about three and a half hours before announcing the verdict.
In March 2023, Kristine had her day in court with accusations of neglecting a dependent against her.
However, the prosecution dropped the accusations, stating that they did not have enough evidence to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Journal & Courier reported that Kristine is currently living in Florida.
Perhaps the most moving aspect of the court case was Natalia’s testimony. When asked about her age, she had to state that she was 22 because that was what her birth certificate indicated.
The court listened to her distressing account of what happened to her after the Barnetts moved away.
Natalia claimed that she did not know how to live on her own, and simple tasks like buying food posed a challenge due to her disability.
She recounted how Katherine moved her to Lafayette to an office, where she signed a lease that indicated that Michael Barnett was the payee for the rent.
According to Indiana State Police Detective Brandon Davenport, Michael Barnett told him that Katherine chose Lafayette as a place because it was a “white-trash town,” and no one would care for or worry about Natalia there.
Natalia also testified that she had lived in an apartment in Westfield for a year before Katherine moved her to Lafayette.
In her Westfield apartment, she mainly survived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, and Ramen noodles.
However, her life took a positive turn when she met Cynthia Mans, who took her in and taught her how to read and write.
The Kristine Barnett court case showcased a tragic tale of neglect and desertion.
Natalia’s distressing testimony and the subsequent verdict has left many questions unanswered and calls for further scrutiny of adoptions and guardianship laws and policies.
The court case serves as a reminder that children in vulnerable positions require our protection and care.
Hopefully, Natalia’s story will lead to greater awareness and action to prevent such injustices from occurring.