Mom to prison for 11 years

"That little boy … screaming to be saved and no one saved him”
Courtney Astolfi
Feb 28, 2014
The mother of a slain 3-year-old is headed to prison for her role in the toddler’s abuse.

Danielle Flannery, 23, was sentenced Thursday in Erie County Common Pleas Court to 11 years in prison, on a single count of permitting child abuse. She pleaded guilty to the charge in December.

Click HERE for more photos from the sentencing

Flannery’s son, Owen Barker, died July 30, 2012, while in the care of her then-boyfriend Michael Milner, 25, at their Fulton Street apartment. Police believe Milner delivered a fatal blow to Owen’s chest while Flannery was at work.

Click HERE for past stories about the Abuse and Death of Owen Barker

Even though Flannery was not in the house at the time, Judge Roger Binette and Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter believeshe was more culpable than she let on. Binette delivered the maximum possible sentence on the first-degree felony, despite testimony from Flannery’s parents. “She was duped by a monster,” said Michelle Daly, Flannery’s mother, during Thursday’s sentencing.

Owen’s father, Kyle Barker, also delivered a statement, as did his mother, Hope Barker, and sister, Kassandra Barker.

“I wish you would’ve let me have him that weekend,” Kyle said.

His mother Hope had a similar sentiment. She spoke of Flannery and her son’s relationship, and how they’d cared for her like family when the pair were still dating.

“That little boy … screaming to be saved and no one saved him,” Hope said. “We would’ve gladly taken him”

“Your selfishness destroyed many lives,” Kassandra Barker told Flannery.

The crux of the case against Flannery centered around her knowledge of ongoing abuse Owen allegedly suffered at Milner’s hands.

Jack Bradley, Flannery’s attorney, asked the judge to consider Flannery’s ignorance of the severity of Milner’s actions.

Flannery took the child to doctors to figure out why Owen was bruising so easily, Bradley said, adding that she was also manipulated by Milner, accepting his lies about Owen’s recurring injuries.

But Flannery, Binette contended, kept Owen under the same roof as Milner, even though she was well aware of the abuse.

Flannery then addressed the court.

“I lost my whole entire world in the blink of an eye,” she said. “I’ll never be able to make it right. I was not a bad person. I did not sacrifice my son for anyone”

Binette said Flannery lied to investigators and she knew of two children’s services cases regarding the abuse, and she also promised not to let Milner be alone with the child.

“She had the opportunity to purge the lies,” Binette said. “She didn’t”

A coroner determined Owen suffered a perforated heart and lacerations to his artery and liver.

“He was literally beaten to death” Binette said.

During the sentencing, prosecutors displayed autopsy photos of Owen’s bruised and broken body, bringing the Barkers, Flannery and other family members to tears.

Bradley protested to the display, but Binette overruled.

Also mentioned were Flannery’s letters to Milner while both were in jail following Owen’s death. Flannery signed someone else’s name to the letters and snuck them to Milner in jail.

“I do love you, I do believe in you,” she wrote. “I miss you terribly and again, I’m sorry”

Said Binette to Flannery: “You are not as truthful, not as innocent as your counsel and family want this court to believe”

After the sentence was handed down, deputies cuffed Flannery and led her from the courtroom. She spent Thursday night in the Erie County jail, and from there she’ll be sent to a state facility to serve her time.

Milner’s next hearing is scheduled for today. He’ll appear by camera prior to an evidentiary hearing in his case, according to court documents.

Comments

Unassumer

How could you still feel love for someone that killed your child?

44846GWP

Witch.

holysee

I tell my kids all the time: Traditional monsters and ghosts are not real, but human monsters are real and they are out there, and it's not always easy to tell them apart from the Good People, so always be on guard. Just look at the human monsters running the catholic cult. Fortunately the Good People far outnumber the evil ones.

mrlizzzard

One creep enjoys the 1% type of legal system the other creep got less than deserved,

red white and blue

The sad part is children services is worthless they continue to drop the ball case after case this world cares more for our prisoners then children being abused

YouMustBeJoking

So she knew that her son was being abused repeatedly, and eventually murdered. She should be locked up for the rest of her life. But the problem I have, is that children services also knew that this child was being abused repeatedly, there were atleast 2 cases that children services had investigated regarding the abuse of this child, and yet NOTHING was done. The person or persons that were in charge of these TWO cases should be charged and CONVICTED of the exact same thing as the mother. Because the mother knew the abuse was going on, and did nothing. Children services KNEW the abuse was going on, and did nothing. Lets make an example of these children service workers, and put them behind bars. This child was forced to endure multiple beatings, and suffered repeatedly, eventually succumbing to his injuries. Children services IS responsible for the death of this baby.

Sal Dali

I agree with you, children's services has not been held accountable and should be. Owen should have been removed from the abusive environment and could have been placed with his father or grandparents. The failure to place him in a safe place is inexcusable. SR reported one of the incidents that was reported to CS about this little child's private area and buttocks being badly bruised, why would any professional believe this type of abuse was going to end because the abuser cried and said they were sorry? He was sorry he got caught and that is all, the evidence speaks to that. I have no empathy for this woman, she is as responsible as Milner for her child's death, she knew and saw the child's bruising and didn't move away or boot him out. Law dictates we are responsible for the safety of our children in cases like this (Boone v State, 282 Ark. 274; 668 S.W.2d 17; 1984 Ark.). Each time I think of the suffering this poor little boy went through my heart aches.

Commenter

I would love to see the SR go after this agency and hold them accountable like they have with Sandusky County. I know from personal experience when I have called Children's Services for the well being of a family members child. They did indeed investigate and basically food, shelter and clothing were being provided, even if living conditions were deplorable and emotional abuse was happening. It takes a tragedy for them to step in.

Simple Enough II

I'm sorry, I find anyone to put faith in someone else taking care of your child, your grandchild, your nephew or niece as foolish, as a family member it is your responsibility and duty to provide for their safety and wellbeing.

Commenter

Simple.... I agree to a point, unfortunately there are some really bad parents out there, Children's Services has a job to protect children, usually FROM their parents. This mother knew this guy was abusing her child. I'm glad she got jail time. They should also sterilize her.

Simple Enough II

He had a father, he had grandparents, not just a mother. Didn't the father have visitation with his son? J&FS along with the cops & the courts are a last ditch option, they know the least about the situation and the people involved.

bdid.d519

Poor baby , this breaks my heart . These two may never truly understand what they did until they are in the same position. Children services should have fought for this child, but his mother should have been on the front line.

usmc21

All she got was 11 years and the poor baby got life!!!

he said she said

from the August 2, 2012 article: "Officials at the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services, meanwhile, said they did everything they could to help Owen after an incident last year, also involving Milner.

Newly released documents show county social workers investigated Milner on Aug. 19, 2011, after getting a report of abuse from Ashland County.

The report was made by Owen’s grandparents after they discovered bruises on the boy’s buttocks and scrotum while they were babysitting the toddler, who had just turned 2 years old at the time.

Social workers saw the boy the same day the report was filed, Erie County Job and Family Services director Karen Balconi-Ghezzi said.

“By the time we saw it, the bruising had gone to the yellow stage,” Balconi-Ghezzi said. “It wasn’t substantial enough for charges.”

Sandusky police then interviewed Milner and Flannery, according to a police report.

During the interview, Flannery told police Milner had spanked Owen when she was at work.

“She stated Milner caught Owen climbing out of a second story window. Milner then gave Owen a spanking,” the police report said. “She said she does not think Milner realized how hard he hit Owen and she was sure he did not mean to harm Owen.”

Days later, Milner admitted to police that he bent the toddler over his knee and spanked him after catching the boy trying to go out the window.

“Milner said he feels horrible about the incident and did not mean to spank him that hard ... he did not mean to hurt Owen,” the report said. “Milner said he will never spank (Owen) again.”

That’s where talk of charges ended."

I know everyone wants someone to blame for this but how about blaming Michael for murdering this baby and Danielle for knowing the abuse was going on and letting it continue. It said in the report to children services “Milner said he will never spank (Owen) again.” No he didn't spank him again, he beat him to death. She had to have known what was going on from bruising on her child and she allowed this monster to keep watching her baby. She enabled Michael to keep beating and abusing her son eventually killing him.

With Children Services, their hands were tied. When bruises go to the yellow-green stage, they are at least 10 to 14 days old. If the bruises had been reported when they were still in the purple-blue stage, Children Services could have done more as those bruises happened within in the last 5 to 7 days.

Commenter

If the only person who saw the bruises at that color, protected the monster that did it...WHO was going to report it? WHY on earth can't charges be filed, you can TELL the bruises were old, so they had to BE WORSE. Children Serviced could have REMOVED THE CHILD FROM THE HOME! I'm not saying they are 100% accountable, but I do think that something needs changed. So many times children are given back to parents that are awful parents.

Commenter

And you are right, people do want someone to blame when an innocent child gets hurt or killed. I'm glad the mother got jail time. I hope the murderer gets death. My frustration with Children Services is from a personal experience.

SamAdams

This is insanity. You've got Childrens' Services in Massachusetts taking a child away from her parents for no other reason than the parents went with a second doctor's opinion rather than a first; and you've got a dead baby in Ohio because repeated complaints, investigations, and evidence weren't "sufficient."

I suspect Childrens' Services was created to protect children from bad family circumstances, and I respect that. I even believe that most who work for the agency have that in the forefront of their minds and hearts. But convoluted laws they have no choice but to follow, the mistaken notion that the parent is just about ALWAYS the best choice to raise a child, and the sweet taste of power have corrupted these agencies at their very core.

It's too late for this poor baby. It's NOT too late to take a good, hard look at Childrens' Services and get to work straightening the confusing regulations, repealing the bad regulations, and restoring the agency to its intent.

God Of Thunder

Why is it taking so long for that jack-off Milner to go to trial???

Julie R.

She won't serve the full 11 years ..... count on it. It will probably be just like the Crispin woman ---- the courts & the prosecutor will play their well-known unlawful games to make sure this little boy's family members don't make it to her early release hearing. It seems like the only ones in Erie County that serve their full sentences ~ and then some ~ are your drug dealers. Wonder why. Get rid of the competition, maybe?

Tsu Dho Nimh

I am afraid that you are right.

deertracker

Right again Julie!

WhatUbloginAbout's picture
WhatUbloginAbout

Erie County Family And Job Services failed this helpless little boy!!

Seen it All

This story makes me physically ill. I agree with another post, this woman should not be able to reproduce ever again. She has shown she is not mentally or emotionally capable of caring for a child.

As far as Erie County Jobs and Family Services go.. EPIC FAIL once again. It is a SHAME that no one down there is being prosecuted for this murder and the one in Vermillion, but is completely unconceivable to me, as to why at best, no heads even rolled over these two cases!!!!! Wow, that is some kind of job security system they have down there!!

SamAdams

I can't argue your notion of responsibility since I happen to agree with you. But nobody is going to go to jail because I'll bet that nobody broke any laws. In fact, I'll bet the rules were followed! You know how the investigation showed bruises that are "too old?" And how that was "insufficient" to move forward? Here's another bet: Workers were hamstrung by regulations that say sorry, but yellowing bruises are meaningless.

That's why I said both the authority behind Childrens' Services AND the regulations need an overhaul. There have been egregious abuses from both ends of the spectrum. In some cases, kids lose their parents temporarily, and shouldn't; in others, the kids SHOULD lose their parents and instead end up losing their lives.

queenjhb

She probably qualified for entitlements, that would have been reduced if the father was given custody, I'm sure Milner enjoyed these. She needed a man soooo bad she looked the other way. Her child had to show signs of fear of him, been in physical pain. She was told Milner couldn't be around her child. 11 years is not enough.

YouMustBeJoking

Exactly queenjhb, combine all of the "entitlements", welfare check, food stamps, WIC, medical card, housing, obama phone and the utilities that the government paid for, and I bet this girl was living life a lot better than most of us with full time jobs. She obviously didn't want or love her child, she just loved the "entitlements" that came from having custody of the child. It's pretty sad that the only bread winner in the house was the child, that they repeatedly abused. Instead of relinguishing (sp) custody, and losing the welfare etc. etc., they chose to beat and murder the child. Everything about this story makes me sick, and mad as hell, I can't quit gritting my teeth. GODSPEED Owen, may you now be able to finally Rest In Peace.

bdid.d519

It really kills me when the "mother" only seems to cry in court. Looks like she is only sad that she was caught and about losing the benefits and not the child.