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Howard County judge decides to not hold coroner in contempt of court

The Howard County Coroner appeared in court on Wednesday morning and voluntarily offered to turn over a copy of the transcript from the coroner’s inquest.

This comes after the Glasgow School District filed a motion to hold the Howard County coroner in contempt of court for not turning over documents.

The coroner, Frank Flaspohler, said he was concerned the prior judgment ordered the release of other documents, including photographs of Kenneth Suttner following his death. Suttner’s suicide was the subject of an inquest in which the jury determined Harley Branham, his manager at the Fayette Dairy Queen, bullied him, and that the Glasgow School District was negligent in handling the bullying that took place at school.

The judge ordered the photographs to not be released and declined to hold anyone in contempt of court.

“I was very pleased with Judge Hayes’ decision this morning,” Flaspohler said. “We want to cooperate with the court’s order, but the initial decision would have invaded the privacy of Kenny and the Suttner family. I am relieved to know that the photos of Mr. Suttner’s death will not be released to the public.”

The coroner will only release documents in his possession but the school district also wants the release of a police report.

Thomas Mickes, attorney for the Glasgow School District, tells ABC 17 News that it has never been interested in the photos. The photos became part of the transcript when Flaspohler admitted them as exhibits at the inquest, Mickes said.

“For the coroner to be dragging out pictures, as if the school district wants the pictures, is nonsense,” Mickes said.

This is part of an ongoing demand by the Glasgow School District to have access to the records of a coroner’s inquest held in January 2017. Mickes said the district asked for the transcript shortly after the inquest. Flaspohler later explained to them that the record was closed due to the involuntary manslaughter charge filed against Branham. The district filed the lawsuit on March 23 to obtain it.

Hayes scheduled another hearing on the issue on Dec. 6.

Branham faces a preliminary hearing on her charge on Nov. 29.

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