Coroner appeals order to turn over death investigation records

1 week 3 days 3 hours ago Thursday, October 12 2017 Oct 12, 2017 Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:59:00 AM CDT October 12, 2017 in News
By: Amber Sipe KOMU 8 Reporter, Steve Lambson, KOMU 8 News Content Manager
loading

FAYETTE - A judge has ordered the Howard County Coroner to turn over documents from an inquest held in January 2017 over the death of Kenneth Suttner.

The Glasgow School District filed a lawsuit in March seeking the transcript and exhibits from the inquest. The district said its request for the records, which it claims are public, was denied by the coroner's office.

"We had been promised from the day of the hearing in January that we would receive a transcript, only to be told in March that we would not receive it. Then we were forced to engage in litigation." attorney for the Glasgow School District Thomas Mickes said.

In Judge Scott Hayes' ruling, issued on October 9, he said the coroner is not a law enforcement agency and "cannot close the records requested" by the school district. The coroner had until October 11 to comply with the order, but filed an appeal with the Western District Court of Missouri on October 10.

The coroner's attorney Richard Hicks said they disagree with the judge's ruling and the "salient issue in this matter regards whether a coroner's office is a law enforcement agency."

Hicks said the coroner, Frank Flaspohler, was advised by Special Prosecuting Attorney April Wilson that there was still an ongoing investigation and the documents being requested were "investigative in nature and therefore protected documents that don't have to be disclosed."

The January inquest found bullying was a contributing factor to Suttner's death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Harley Branham, a former manager at the Dairy Queen where Suttner worked, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly harassing Suttner, leading to his death.

The jury at the inquest found Branham to be "the principle in the cause of death." They also found Dairy Queen to be negligent in training on harassment prevention and resolution, and found the school district to be "negligent in preventing bullying." All of these factors, the jury ruled, "caused Kenneth Suttner to take his own life."

Mickes said at the coroner's inquest, "The district, nor its staff or students were allowed to defend themselves. Individual students were named and their reputations tarnished, the reputation of our staff and our district was tarnished and the transcript was our vehicle to tell the whole story."

He mentioned that some evidence provided to the jury about how the school district handles bullying was taken out of context.

Hicks said if Flaspohler were to be advised that there is no longer a criminal investigation, then he would "readily turn over the requested documents."

In March, the KOMU Target 8 Team looked at the issue of responsibility for deaths caused by bullying.

[This story has been updated from a previous version to add more information and correct the spelling of Suttner's last name.]

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — In some St. Louis barber shops and beauty salons, customers might get sex education while having... More >>
2 hours ago Sunday, October 22 2017 Oct 22, 2017 Sunday, October 22, 2017 11:50:00 AM CDT October 22, 2017 in News
Moberly - An arraignment is scheduled Monday for a Moberly man facing several felony charges ranging from incest, rape or... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, October 22 2017 Oct 22, 2017 Sunday, October 22, 2017 9:00:00 AM CDT October 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- Missouri and Kansas will play a friendly version of their 'Border War' rivalry for the first time since 2012.... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, October 22 2017 Oct 22, 2017 Sunday, October 22, 2017 6:56:00 AM CDT October 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - An armed robbery occurred Saturday night at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store on Cooper Drive. CPD officers... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 10:10:35 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - One man was taken to a local hospital for a gunshot wound received Saturday night. CPD officers... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 9:56:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
NEW FRANKLIN - The Missouri River Relief organized about 250 volunteers Saturday to remove trash from the Missouri River as... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:38:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Officers responded to reports of shots fired at about 6:00 p.m. Saturday at the McDonald's Restaurant on Stadium... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:36:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY – Four people were injured in a three-vehicle collision at Obermiller Road Saturday afternoon according to a sergeant... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 6:24:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
FULTON - Dozens of trucks raced though the mud to raise money for the Central Missouri Honor Flight Saturday at... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 5:48:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The state no longer will make children in foster care pay a $15 fee to get... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 4:56:46 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT- New bike lines were painted in Holts Summit Thursday to make cycling safer and more accessible. The... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:49:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Local entrepreneurs walked away with some cash Saturday after an annual pitch off competition. The sixth annual... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:42:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis public school district is suing 32 teachers for breaking their contracts by leaving... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:35:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology hosted an explorative event on Saturday for International Archaeology... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:23:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis Community College professor was grabbed from behind by an officer, pulled to the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:33:18 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - The Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel (MASFAP) is celebrating 50 years of providing greater access to... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:09:00 PM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Kansas City's efforts to obtain $40 million in federal funding to replace an important bridge are... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 10:43:44 AM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Center Project, mid-Missouri's LGBTQ community center, will provide free health care and behavioral health services Saturday to... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, October 21 2017 Oct 21, 2017 Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:20:00 AM CDT October 21, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 53°
3pm 56°
4pm 57°
5pm 59°
6pm 58°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:00p
Formula One Racing
4:00p
F1 Extra
5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
1:30p
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
4:00p
Rules of Engagement
4:30p
Rules of Engagement

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
7:00p
Twisted
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy