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Judge Finds Lodi Man Who Killed Grandmother, 85, Not Guilty By Insanity

Joseph Bariso
Joseph Bariso Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

LODI, N.J. -- A judge in Hackensack on Thursday found a Lodi man not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting death of his 85-year-old grandmother as she slept on a couch.

Joseph Bariso, 30, — who’d gone AWOL from the Army — shot Olga Bariso, four times on Dec. 29, 2013 as she lay sleeping on her living-room couch, according to Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer.

He then fled, she said.

After disposing of the gun, which was never recovered, he “had the presence of mind” to go to a Target store and change his clothing, Grootenboer said at the time.

Authorities issued an all-points bulletin for the younger Bariso after police were called to the house. Rutherford police found him walking along Rutherford Avenue several hours later.

He originally was charged with attempted murder and hindering apprehension. The charges were upgraded to murder after Olga Bariso died less than two weeks later.

He had remained held on $2 million bail ever since, jail records show.

Concerns were expressed over Bariso's mental state during hearings that began in 2014.

“He did abandon his post from the US Army [in September 2008], which is a flight risk,” former Bergen County Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi said during a previous hearing.

“More important," the judge said, "he reports that he works for the NSA, which is like a spy.

“That he would be working as a spy for the NSA is quite odd. I made phone calls, and they have no record of him,” she said.

DeAvila-Silebi also said at the time that Bariso “doesn’t really have a clear residence. According to him, it’s very transient. He’s not in any location for a very long period of time. He has no employment except for odd jobs here and there."

Procedure in such verdicts is to place the defendant under the supervision of the state Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction, with regular re-evaluations.

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