COLUMBIA — Harley Branham, the former Dairy Queen manager implicated in the suicide death of a Glasgow high schooler, has been charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, according to online court records.
Branham was called to appear in Howard County Court Tuesday to testify in the inquest into Kenneth Suttner's death. Suttner died by suicide Dec. 21, and the inquest jury found probable cause that Branham's harassment of Suttner contributed to his death. The jury recommended she be charged.
Missouri's criminal code changed Jan. 1, creating a new class of felony, but because Suttner died before the change, Branham is being charged under the old code. The charge she faces is a class D felony, for which the maximum penalty is four years imprisonment, under the 2003 code.
Missouri law allows an inquest to be called by a coroner to determine if there was criminal activity in a person's death. State statute calls for six-person juries in those proceedings. April Wilson, the special prosecutor in the case, said inquests dictate if there is probable cause to charge a crime.
Wilson was appointed special prosecutor after Stephen Murrell, the Howard County prosecutor, recused himself due to a conflict. She said Tuesday she did not know whether she or Murrell would bring charges, but Wilson was listed as special prosecutor in the online records.
Branham, who identified her residence in Armstrong during Tuesday's inquest, was listed in the records as residing on Church Street in Fayette.
On Tuesday, Wilson could not provide Branham's age. Online court records listed her year of birth as 1995.
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 15 to 19 in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly one in five deaths in the age group were a result of suicide, totaling 1,834 that year. Guns were used in half of all suicides in 2014. Because compiling statistics takes some time, 2014 numbers were the most recently available.
Wilson was not available for comment Wednesday. Suttner's parents also were not available to comment.
Branhan had been released from the Howard County Jail on a $25,000 bond on Wednesday.
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