Owen Barker
June 26, 2009 - July 30, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial

When a grandmother decided to turn Michael Milner in for child abuse, the interim Director of Erie County Job and Family Services decided that even though three year old Owen Barker had bruising on his bottom as well as his scrotum, that abuse was not severe enough to do anything about it:

"The incident didn't rise to the level we could substantiate abuse"
Karen Baconi Ghezzi

Besides, Michael, who told Police that while he went to use the bathroom, Owen opened a screened window and when Michael returned to the room, it looked as though Owen was going to fall out, he only swatted his bottom twice and didn't mean to hit him that hard. Michael said he would never spank Owen again. There you go, all better. The initial report of the bruising was filed in August of 2011 and Danielle Flannery backed Michael up saying she was positive he didn't mean to hurt her son.

Karen Ghezzi decided that since spanking was allowed under Ohio law and is only considered criminal if there seems to be excessive punishment that creates a risk of serious injury to a child, Michael had done nothing wrong:

"While no an approved form of discipline, spanking is an accepted
form of discipline"

What sense does that make? It's not approved of but it is accepted? Having investigated the allegations made by Owen's grandmother, Children's Services decided that he had not been severely injured:

"By the time we saw the bruising, it was yellow. By the time of the
interview, both individuals were remorseful"

Karen Ghezzi decided that no red flags were raised after separate interviews were done with Danielle and Michael. Everyone was happy and convinced that Owen had not been abused, that is everyont except for Owen and his grandmother. Daycare was offered to Danielle should she want someone else to watch Owen while she worked, however, since Owen was not in "protective mode", there was no way to force her to accept the help, the case was closed and turned over to the Prosecuting Attorney.

Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter cited a case in 1999 that had involved a child being spanked where the court had criticized Children's Services for getting involved and it was said that Children's Services should not get involved in abuse allegations cases unless it appeared to be a serious case and the child was in danger. Kevin Baxter said that corporal punishment was acceptable in past cases.

On June 26, 2012, Owen Barker turned three years old, on July 30, 2012 a call to 911 came in saying that once again, Michael had been watching Owen and Owen had been injured. During a 911 call Michael said in a panicked voice:

"He fell on a toy truck and hit his head. He's not moving or breathing
or nothing. Please get someone here"

Michael, who was 25 years old at the time, told the dispatcher that people were there trying to revive Owen. Police Lt. John Orzech arrived to find that Owen had injuries not consistent with a child falling on or tripping over a toy truck, though they also fond no signs of abuse or a struggle while checking out the house. A neighbor was trying to revive Owen but was unsuccessful.

Owen's death was ruled a homicide and an autopsy was scheduled with the cause of death being multiple blunt trauma. Owen had multiple injuries in various stages of healing and it was obvious that he had been beaten. Michael Milner was arrested and charged with child endangering, felonious assault and murder.  Kevin Baxter said that case would go to the Grand Jury the next week with a possibility of more charges and that cases with prior incidents are always difficult:

"It's certainly an extremely tragic case"

Yes it is, considering the law seems to be that as long as you are sorry for hurting your children, it's okay to spank them hard enough to leave bruises.
In March of 2014, Danielle Flannery was 23 years old when she had plead guilty to a felony charge of permitting child abuse. Danielle was in court where Prosecutors had dropped charges of obstructing justice, child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in exchange for her plea deal in which she was sentenced to 11 years in prison and five years of probation upon her release. As is the normal way of doing things, I look for the excuses to come along of the mother having been abused or something in her past that makes her think it's okay for a man to beat her child. I was not let down in this case.  Jack Bradly, Danielle's Lawyer wrote that Danielle had no sense of what a home or family should be like since her own parents hated each other. Danielle had fallen in love with Kyle Barker and own had been born in that relationship which eventually broke up.

Danielle met Michael and she began to trust him to take care of Owen even when she noticed bruises on his body, though she did get medical help for him at the time. Danielle noticed the bruising more and more and reports say that she took the advice of Doctors and Police and was able to convince herself that Owen was suffering with a medical condition that caused the bruising. Danielle received a phone call at work on July 30th telling her that her son had passed away:

"Danielle exercised poor judgement and made choices which she
is not proud of and would take back in an instant if she could. Those
who know Danielle best, see the pain she suffers day in and day out.
Danielle is a product of a broken home. She grew up never knowing
what a stable, loving home was like. All she wanted for her son was
what she lacked as a child. Danielle was a working mother, trying to
provide for her son and unfortunately trusted the wrong person to
care for her son while she was away"
Jack Bradly

Jack Bradly asked that Danielle receive only probation for her part in the death of this little boy. Time after time I hear and read how "She just wanted better for her child", better is NOT allowing a man to beat your child and ignoring it to point that your child is now dead. Danielle could have prevented this death, but like so many others, the man came first her in her life.

Michael's trial was set to begin in May of that same year. Michael had been indicted on aggravated murder as well as other charges and was facing the death penalty. The indictment said that Michael had purposefully caused the death of Owen and had tortured and abused him. Jack Bradly said that he didn't expect Michael's sentence to be the same as Danielle's:

"That was a very harsh sentence and it's going to be appealed"
It was a very serious case, but I still think the sentencing was
extremely harsh"

Really? You think what she is sentenced to is harsh? What about what she allowed to happen to her child? Was that harsh as well? What about the abuse and torture that a three year old little boy had to take from a man that Danielle KNEW was beating and abusing him? What about being beaten to death? Danielle got off easy, she should be in prison for life! Unfortunately, Danielle will be eligible for early release after only half of her sentence is served. Owen isn't so luck, he'll be dead to this world, though alive in the Lord, forever.

In May of 2014, Michael Milner was 26 years old when he plead guilty to one count of aggravated murder which would allow him to avoid the death penalty. Charges of murder, felonious assault and child endangering were dropped as part of the plea agreement. Michael faced either life without parole, life with the possibility of parole after either 20, 25 or 30 years. Judge Roger Binette would be the one to decide Michael's sentence but it was agreed that Kevin Baxter would not ask for life without parole but instead would recommend one of the other three options of life with possibility of parole. Judge Binette said he wanted to hear all sides of the case before making a final decision.

Michael had answered questions during the hearing and at one point it is reported that it was the ONLY point in which his voiced wavered was when he said "I plead guilty". When leaving the courtroom, he spoke to a group of people saying. "I love you guys" to which someone replied, "Love you too Mike".

In August of 2014, Michael Milner was sentenced to life without parole, just as it should have been. Thank you Lord!

In February of 2015, Dainelle was 24 years old when the Ohio District Court of Appeals rejected her appeal that was based on the fact that her Lawyer felt her sentence was too harsh since it was the maximum she could have received. Owen got the maximum, death, so why shouldn't his killers get the maximum as well?



Owen Barker, age 3, of Sandusky, died unexpectedly Monday evening, July 30, 2012 at Firelands Regional Medical Center.

He was born June 26, 2009 in Norwalk. He enjoyed seeing his family regularly, playing outdoors, and liked batman.

He is survived by his loving mother and father, Danielle Flannery and Kyle Barker; half-sister, Anna Nichols; grandparents, Bill and Michelle Daly, James Flannery, Hope and Tim Barker; uncles, Patrick Daly and Brayson Flannery; aunts, Rachel Daly, Alison Daly, Elizabeth Daly, Sierra Flannery, Kassandra Barker, Kennedy Barker and Jazzlyn Flannery; and a host of other family members.

A private service will be held at a later date. Local arrangements by the Evens Funeral  home, 314 E. Main Street, Norwalk.

Memorial contributions may be made to the family.

Condolences may be shared at norwalkfuneralhome.com

This page was created on December 24, 2016

Death occurred in the state of Ohio

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