Mom of slain toddler enters plea

Danielle Flannery guilty of permitting child abuse; three other charges dropped

The mother of a 3-year-old Sandusky boy who was beaten to death in July 2012 pleaded guilty Friday to permitting child abuse.

Danielle Flannery, 23, pleaded guilty to the first-degree felony charge in Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette's courtroom. She could face up to 11 years in prison when she's sentenced in February. She also faces a $20,000 fine.

Flannery was the mother of Owen Barker, who died July 30, 2012, of a fatal blow to the chest. The child suffered heavy internal and external bruising to his head, lungs and abdomen.

Flannery's boyfriend at the time, Michael Milner, 25, was charged aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and child endangering. He remains in the Erie County jail awaiting trial, with a pretrial scheduled for Jan. 13.

Milner was babysitting the child at their Fulton Street home while Flannery was at work. He maintained the child slipped and fell on a toy truck. During the course of their investigation, police and prosecutors determined Owen had suffered abuse multiple times prior to his death. They had also charged Flannery with obstruction because they determined she knew more about the night Owen died, but didn't share the information with investigators.

In exchange for her plea, however, prosecutors dismissed the obstruction charge, as well as dismissing charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangering.

Flannery remains free on bond. Her plea hearing Friday lasted about 20 minutes.