KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Relatives of a Missouri teen whose suicide led to criminal charges against a woman accused of harassing him say it is “long overdue that the issue of bullying be brought to light.”
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Mike and Angela Suttner also said in the statement released Tuesday that they hope people can “work together to make change” and that there will be no “negative backlash” in the community. Their 17-year-old son, Kenneth Suttner, shot and killed himself in December.
Their statement was released as 21-year-old Harley Branham made her first court appearance on a second-degree involuntary manslaughter charge. She managed the Dairy Queen in Fayette where Suttner worked.
On Jan. 31, an inquest found Branham was the principal cause of the teen’s suicide, the paper reports. A jury of six people at the inquest also reportedly determined the boy’s high school and the Fayette Dairy Queen were negligent in addressing bullying.
Several co-workers testified that Branham treated Suttner poorly. She was reportedly arrested the day of the inquest and psoted $25,000 bond.
Her attorney, Jeff Hilbrenner, called the case “a tough situation for everyone” and said his client feels badly about Suttner’s death. At the inquest, Branham said any insulting remarks she directed at Suttner were made in jest, the Daily Tribune reported.