Mother of Owen Barker offers to help prosecutors

A mother charged in the death of her 3-year-old son has offered to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a plea agreement.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 6, 2013

Danielle Flannery, 22, of Sandusky, was scheduled for trial next week. But at a hearing Monday, her attorney, John Prusak, asked the court to change the date.

"She said she is interested in helping the state in the way of cooperation," Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. "We're just going to have to address whether or not we're going to use her."

Flannery is charged with involuntary manslaughter, permitting child abuse, endangering a child and obstructing justice, all in connection to the July 30 death of Owen Barker. Police have said she left Owen in the care of her then-boyfriend, Michael Milner, 24, while she was at work that day.

For more on the case, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Register.



no deal in my opinion. she permitted this to happen to HER child.


She was the sole support of the family and most likely had little choice. She may not have realized how dangerous her boyfriend really was. She's 22. Even older women make poor choices in men and even after having learned hard lessons. You cannot assume she knew that something terrible would happen if she allowed him to babysit. That would mean she was psychic and knew and went to work anyway. Don't you think she regrets this every day of her life? Why should she spend years in prison because of her bad choice in a boyfriend? He's the one at fault. Period.


Point taken but she was also the child's mother. She is responsible for his safety and she failed contributing to his death. Yes, she will regret her choices forever but she should still have to pay. You don't need psychic powers to see that your child has been abused. Choosing a bad boyfriend was not the only bad choice she made.


This was NOT the first time. Your arguement MIGHT have a little (VERY little) merit if it was the first time. He had been investigated before for abuse. No sympathy for her, she deserves to be in prison. And yes she should spend her life in prison for her bad choice.


She knew about his violent past and she knew about his drug use. The problem is that too many people, the family court system included want to believe that because a person's violence hasn't been directed towards children, then children are safe in their presence. Why give them the opportunity to be violent to a child, especially your own?


She's a birther, period ; she doesn't begin to define a " mother ".


Everyone has an opinion. However until you walk in someone else's shoes don't make judgements. It is not our place to judge in is God's job. Owen is at peace and this incident is so very unfortunate, sad and heart wrenching but please think if this was your son or daughter and they made the choice to have a bad boyfriend or girlfriend. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL THEN. Just saying. I try to not judge cause I know who does the judging in my life GOD...........


Hey linben, was God so busy judging your life, that he couldn't step in and save Owens? I'm pretty sure that Owen's family would rather him ALIVE than "at peace".

Just saying.


I am talking about when we die we have to face God for all the wrongs we have all done in our lives granted it may not be the killing or harming of a child but who is anyone to judge someone else on what the papers print. Yes I am sure Owens family would much rather him be alive but that is not how it happened so if he now has peace that is what we should pray for, no more harm can come to this child he is in God's LOVING arms now.


@ DickTracey

See what happens when people don't listen to and obey God?


Yes 4shizzle, from what I am reading here, if you praise God in the blogs of the Register, you get to be cradled in his loving arms and be in peace after you die.


Some people just don't understand. DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD loves us all good and bad. He died for our sins. BYE BYE. Will not be back


@linben Thank God!


@ dicktracey that how it works?

Simple Enough II

Owen is at peace? What pain and suffering did Owen experiance before "Owen found peace"? If it was my family, we wouldn't be having a trial.


So,let me get this right,she offers to help PROSECUTORS. But never helped her own son!

Can you say self centered? All she thinks about is herself. That is not a good trait for a mother.

Previous stories reported she found bruising on her son and was aware of abuse, even asked a doctor about it. THe grandparents also found bruising.


So, you think just because this poor baby is at peace and no longer suffering it is OK? I would personally TAKE my "grandchild" away from my son/daughter if I knew this was going on. This was NOT the first time. It was known and investigated before.


No NO NO it is not ok. and yes in a perfect world he should have been removed from the home but we don't live in a perfect world. Why didn't children's services do something if it was known to be going on. wow another system fail so shocking. Let the Jury and God take care of it.


Remember people in this country are guilty until proven innocent, they say other wise but we all know this is true, and everything you read in the papers and internet are so TRUE. The papers never make any errors they convict in their paper and people believe everything they print or say. I am not saying they are innocent or guilty I am saying this is so very sad but lets let this come to an end with a jury finding them guilty or not guilty not the press.


I wish that people in this country are innocent until proven otherwise but it is just not the case.


They are supposed to be innocent until proven have it backward. And others DO have the right to judge....its called the jury system. And others have the right to opinions. That is why they are on here. The PRESS offers us the right to express them here whether you like our opinions or not. That is why many of us blog on express our First Amendment rights to free speech. It isn't a God given right, but one set up by the Constitution of the US Government. And that you cannot take away either. The Government, in it's infinite wisdom stated "In God we trust", so I assume the forefathers expected us to be able to use our voices as we saw fit as well.

Sit n Spin

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.


Prisoner's dilemma. They'll both go to prison after the testify against each other.

Julie R.

Even an animal will fight to its death to protect their young.


I do not believe she should be allowed to make a deal. She lied and took his side the 1st. time they were being investigated which in turn caused her son's death. As a mom of 6 I will not and can not in any way, shape or form think she had no responsibility in this. She may have been only 22, but she was fully aware of his past. That right there should of been enough to NOT allow him around. The county offered her a number of resources and she turned them down. A mistake in judgement? A child was killed- a mistake in judgement is forgetting your kid's gloves at home not exposing them to a effed up boyfriend who murders your child.


For once I happen to agree with Julie R!! This wasn't an isolated incident and "oh my gosh" Owen is suddenly abused and has died kind of thing. Now I wasn't there to know what was going on but the coroner said there were signs of abuse on his body previously and you can't tell me that his mom didn't see it happening before and covered it up. Yeah she's young but she knows the differences between a bump and a bruise that a baby would get just from normal play and a bump and bruise that a baby would get from being abused!!!


The problem here isn't that Flannery made bad choice in boyfriends. God knows more than a few of us have done the same thing! The issue is that she apparently had ample opportunity to KNOW he was a bad choice, and to KNOW he was a danger to her child, and she left him alone with the baby anyway.

Did she kill her son? No. And I haven't heard anybody suggest that she did. Would I personally consider her an accessory to murder? Absolutely! She apparently took no action whatsoever to prevent the harm, and that makes her culpable as far as I'm concerned.

Dick Tracy said it: This woman, who couldn't muster up enough concern for her own son to do anything, is now worried about saving her OWN skin! If the prosecutors have enough evidence without her "cooperation" — and it sounds like they do — then they should proceed without her help and prosecute HER to the fullest extent of the law while they're at it!


So sad! She'll do whatever it takes to stay out of prison. I say forget her, they don't need her help. Throw her in jail with him. I pray for justice for baby Owen.


Sometimes the abused victim cannot get out of the abusive relationship. Sometimes they cannot make clear decisions because of the abuse. It is only once they leave that they begin to see things clearly. It is important to understand why a victim stays with an abuser. Every mother has a duty to protect their children. It is an instinct which is sometimes distorted by abuse, alcohol and drugs. I think it is her duty to co-operate with authorities. I don't think however she should be able to make a "deal". She should have been co-operating all along. If she hasn't she should be punished accordingly. There needs to be a message sent out there that there is no excuse for involuntary manslaughter, permitting child abuse, endangering a child and obstructing justice. This should not be tolerated, nor should "co-operating", at this stage, be rewarded in any way.


Exactly WHY our justice system does NOT work. Little Owen didn't get to plead out of being beaten to death. Makes me sick!!! And I agree with Mum-of-one .... she should not be rewarded in ANY way at this stage (unless that reward would help her see her way to her maker very quickly).