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.

Comments

mikel

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

Unassumer

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.

deertracker

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.

ladydye_5

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.

RUKidding

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?

starryeyes83

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

linben

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...........

DickTracey

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.

linben

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.

shucks

@ DickTracey

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

DickTracey

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.

linben

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

DickTracey

@linben Thank God!

shucks

@ dicktracey
Really...is 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.

DickTracey

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.

ladydye_5

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.

linben

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.

linben

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.

deertracker

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

wiredmama222

They are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty...you 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 here...to 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.

MrFlawless

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.

happyfeet64

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.

candleburner

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!!!

SamAdams

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!

mlm_0609

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.

Mum-of-One

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.

Mommy25

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).

Super Judge

Come on Baxter do your job on your own! You dont need her, prison does!

luvblues2

Damn. They say it's the males who want to kill. From these comments it seems quite the opposite. Good thing she is in jail, for I fear that there would be a mob of females at her doorstep ready to kill her on the spot.

he said she said

I agree. She is probably safer in the county than on the street.

he said she said

Really???? You want to step up now that your butt is hot water? How about you should have stepped up when Michael was beating Baby Owen?? Low class is is what it is to want to save your own butt instead of being a mother and protecting your baby!!

You didn't personally kill Owen but you knew that Michael was abusing him. You even stood up and said that he was sorry and it wouldn't happen again. He wasn't sorry for abusing Owen, he was sorry that he got caught!!

Ok so if she couldn't leave because of the abuse, she sure should have put Owen with his father temporarily or her parents. Someone in the family would have stepped up to protect him!! Hell I would have taken him if given the chance and he was no relation except that she dated my son before she left him and went to that Michael.

Owen loved my son and I will forever hear him screaming for my son when I was there helping him move his things out.

bigrmachine

Part of her deal should include a medical procedure that will not let have children anymore...this should go for all people convicted of crimes such as this ..we do not need this kind of human roaming the planet doing this again ...or given the opportunity it will not happen then.

Simple Enough II

If only we could......but where do you stop?

gene44870

This is a shame that something like this has to happen in any family . but the fact is , is that everyone involved with this case should be help accountable and if the laws in this state werent so lax , they would get the be place on death row for the crime .
Theres to much of this going on in this state as well as around the country and to many people are getting off with a slap on the wrist and the cchild is still dead and no justice .

That is why they do this , cause they know they can do it and they get a warm place to sleep and three meals a day at the tax payers expense .

excel

Of course they will use her. Prosecution has a rock solid death penalty case with her testimony. Death is knocking at this guys door; he'll be appealing his death sentence the rest of his life.

justiceforowen

I am a family member of Danielle's.Yes I have raised 4 children and I would of known if someone was beating on my children.I in return would of been beating someone right back and then throwing them out.Danielle is not getting off they are just waiting to send her to prison.They are just keeping her around until after Mike's trial.Then they're going to give her ,her prison sentence.We already know that so yes she is going to be paying also.Owen was such a good little boy and something like this should of never happened.RIP baby Owen we love and miss you.

linben

I am sorry for your loss justiceforowen. I wish people would realize there are more victims then baby Owen yes he is the ultimate victim but so is his whole family. My heart breaks for Owen, you and yours and Owens family. I pray he is at peace sitting on our Heavenly fathers lap and playing with him. Jesus is our salvation and little Owen is loved and sad for people that didn't even know of him before this tragedy.

wiredmama222

You have my deepest sympathy for your loss. This cannot be easy for your family with his lose at all. But your family must be struggling knowing that Danielle knew he was a bad problem, that family services had been there more than once and that she did nothing to prevent these problems. Now she must stand trial for it which will probably cause her to go to jail for life and he to get the death penalty.

This is a sad situation for your whole family, I am sure. The truth is, she probably has nothing much to give the prosecutor because she wasn't there when this happened, other than to give them background info on him. That isn't much. And frankly that is a slippery slope at best for her as well. She would be better off just to go to court and take what the jury gives her at this point. The prosecutor readily admits they may not even use her so any deal may not even be viable if they don't. I know what this feels like from personal experience.

Again, my sympathies for your loss of Owen. Sincerely. Take care.

excel

If they use her she'll likely get time served + a couple years of probation(likely 5).

linben

I doubt that but time will tell

wiredmama222

@excel....my guess is she will get 15 to life, out in 18 months for good behavior. They won't use her at all. They got what they wanted in investigative conference. "If they use her at all". They have probably already talked to her so they have what they want. So she is going to jail but they will give her time and she won't get life without parole. They wouldn't dare give her probabtion. Not for this.

SamAdams

If she receives anything less than life without parole, mandatory sterilization should be part of the sentence. NOBODY responsible for the death of a child should get, or deserves to get, a second chance!

nosey rosey

This could have all been prevented if the 2 sorry excuses for humans in this case would have simply used birth control. Sterilization for both seems appropriate at this point.

luvblues2

Do inmates in the Erie County Jail have the privilege of reading the newspaper or better yet, reading this website online? If so, they know their goose is cooked.

linben

they don't have internet, they used to get paper but I think that was stopped not 100% sure though

justiceforowen

I just wish i would of known he was beating on him and yes they're were always excuses as to why he was bruised.My daughter offered to take him to the hospital on Friday the Monday before he died but Danielle told her she would take him and never did.Danielle was suppose to be sent to prison on Monday by what they said she isn't getting a trial,they are keeping her around until after Mike's trial encase they need her.She is facing 15 to 30 yrs.in prison is what they told my mom (her grandmother).

25yr.resident

Do NOT be fooled by this sociopathic girl. One of these days, soon, its all going to come out, ALL of it. Then little girl, you'd better pray God takes mercy on your soul.

curious

So, she's offering to help prosecutor's, but didn't do $hit to help her own son?!? Figures. How pathetic!

planb

Make excuses for her all u want. This woman knew her child was being abused, left him in the care of the abusive boyfriend which resulted in the death of Owen. Who doesn't make bad choices? Hers resulted in an innocent child's death. Build your case on Milner without her help. She deserves to get sentenced too. Plead her out so she can continue to breed another innocent child and hook up with a new child murderer who tries to cover up the crime. Yea, that's justice.

JACKEL

That plea BS is BS !

queenjhb

her responsibility was [her child] . His safety and welfare #1. She failed, the little boy is gone, not floating around on a cloud , dead. She should beg to be punished, this is not a mistake, its looking the other way[ after all a man ,any man, is more important than her son]. Remember she was there at the arrainment, for the[man] of her dreams.

wiredmama222

Was it not just a couple weeks ago that the SR said she was talking to this man? That she was in contempt of court for speaking to him and not staying away from him? I could have sworn I read that and I know I am not THAT senile. People even talked on here about it.

And NOW she wants to turn State's evidence? Could it be she suddenly is fearful of her own neck? That her attorney finally convinced her that she is going to face perhaps death or prison forever? Gee, what a shame. This isn't her first time in having a problem with children's services and this guy. So why NOW should she be allowed to cop a plea?

Not this time, sweetie. You need to stand up and take your punishment right along with him. Why does the prosecutor even NEED her? Can't they get him without her anyway? Why do they need anything this girl has to say? She wasn't there when it happened. She doesn't need any immunity or help. She was GONE from the house, was she not? She was sucking up to him just a few weeks ago, telling him how much she loved him. She couldn't make much of a witness, now could she?

Come on, prosecutors' office. Are you THAT desperate that you would use an obviously tainted witness to bag this guy? You must have better witnesses, like the guy who stopped over when this guy was running around trying to decide what to do with Owen? Why use her? She doesn't know anything and even if she did, do you think she would do anything to implicate this guy to send him to the needle? Come now! She may be dumb, but she isn't stupid!

It's time to stop playing around with people like they are pawns on a chess board and start getting down and dirty with these jerks. Put them BOTH away....don't pick and chose who you want to go, just because you feel sorry for one of them.

This child died because TWO of them cared more for each other than they did for a child. They both deserve to go to jail, play out their appeals and then be put to death (him) and 15 to life (her), whatever they are getting. Enough said.

queenjhb

wired: you are so articulate and right on about this [mom]. I didnt know she was talking to him recently, really disrespecting to her childs memory, if this is man of her dreams ,she cant get any lower. Dirt bottom , this behavior shows she mentally has no regard for her son at all.

HBK

You all are on here screaming for justice for baby Owen, wouldn't you want that done at all costs? So what if she makes a deal, it will strengthen the case against the KILLER!!! Is she guilty of being a bad parent, yes, she's 22, but she did not kill Owen. Let her cop the deal to put Michael away for life. He's not going to get the death penalty, even though he should. It's not like she's not going to do any time, because she will. With the Clinton trial pending, Baxter or the county just don't have money for two captial murder case at the same time. Michael is a dirtbag, yes, and he will get his as soon as he steps into a level three prison in Ohio. Life in prison would be much more suitable in this case. Even if they do give him a shot at parole after 20 or 25 years (because it won't be 15), that doesn't mean he will get it. Please people, let her help the State convict this KILLER of murder so he will have that life tail on the end of his sentence. The last thing we want is this baby killer ending up pleading out to a stated prison term and know he will hit the streets again someday.