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Prosecutor: Justice was served with plea in Suttner death case

Former boss to serve house arrest

FAYETTE Mo. - The prosecutor in the case against a woman accused of bullying a teen who later killed himself said justice was served with a guilty plea Friday.

Harley Branham pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault during a pre-trial conference in Fayette. The judge sentenced Branham to two years of supervised probation and 30 days of house arrest. 

Branham was accused of bullying 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner when he worked at Dairy Queen. Prosecutors said the bullying eventually contributed to his suicide in 2016.

LIVE PLAYBACK: Playback of a live update from outside the courthouse is available in the player below.

She was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter. That charge was later dropped and she was charged with aggravated stalking, harassment and assault. On Friday, she pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree assault. 

Branham's Attorney, Jeff Hilbrenner said there were more factors at play than what was stated in the case.

"There were a lot of people that treated Kenneth Suttner unfairly throughout his life, and I think Harley feels like she paid a price that others haven't, but she today took responsibility for what she did," Hilbrenner said.

Prosecuting attorney April Wilson said justice was served. 

"Miss Branham got caught in the crosshairs of something that ultimately became bigger than she was," Wilson said.  

Angela Suttner, Kenneth Suttner's mother, previously filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Glasgow Public Schools. She said students and some employees bullied, harassed and discriminated against her son for his mental and physical disabilities, which pushed him to commit suicide.

The wrongful death suit, which is set to be heard in Boone County, is ongoing.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been chaned to say a wrongful death case is ongoing.


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