As Natalia Grace doc looms, prosecutor releases evidence blocked in Barnett case
Birth records, DNA evidence, allegations of abuse weren’t allowed in neglect cases against Michael and Kristine Barnett. 'Curious Case of Natalia Grace' documentary debuts tonight
How old, really, was Natalia Grace Barnett, a Ukrainian orphan, when she was brought to Lafayette in July 2013 and left in a north end apartment?
Was she 9, as her birth records, prosecutors and local detectives contend? Or was she the court-ordered age of 23, an adult with a form of dwarfism that her parents contended duped them into adopting her and then terrorized their family?
As a fresh swirl of speculation starts with the debut of a new docuseries, “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace,” Tippecanoe County’s prosecutor this week released evidence that wasn’t allowed in the cases of Michael and Kristine Barnett, the adoptive parents charged with abandoning Natalia in Lafayette before moving to Canada a decade ago.
“A lot of it is what we weren’t allowed to show,” Prosecutor Pat Harrington said.
In play are birth records from Ukraine, suppressed after charges of neglect were filed in 2019 to wild national and international headlines. There also are details about DNA from Natalia’s birth mother, along newer evidence of physical abuse that added to reasons the Barnetts might have looked to break ties with Natalia.
The upshot: Harrington said prosecutors were ready to prove Natalia was a pre-teen in 2013, meaning charges were justified when the Barnetts’ actions came to light. The way the case played out, they weren’t allowed to present the evidence.
Meanwhile, trailers for “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace” – a three-night series that starts at 9 p.m. Monday on Investigative Discovery – seem to tee up other allegations and attempts at explanations that won’t be bound by statutes of limitations in the wake of Michael Barnett’s acquittal on neglect of a dependent charges in October 2022 and dismissal of similar charges against Kristine Barnett just ahead of her scheduled trial this spring.
Kristine Barnett last week declined to look at what the prosecutor had to show.