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:
incident didn't rise to the level we could
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
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:
no an approved form of discipline, spanking is
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
"By the time we
saw the bruising, it was yellow. By the time
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:
fell on a toy truck and hit his head. He's not
moving or breathing
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:
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
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:
exercised poor judgement and made choices which
not proud of and would take back in an instant if
she could. Those
know Danielle best, see the pain she suffers day
in and day out.
is a product of a broken home. She grew up never
a stable, loving home was like. All she wanted for
her son was
she lacked as a child. Danielle was a working
mother, trying to
for her son and unfortunately trusted the wrong
for her son while she was away"
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
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
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
He was born June 26, 2009 in Norwalk. He enjoyed
seeing his family regularly, playing outdoors, and
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