Medical Examiner: Death of teen at Berea group home is a homicide

Medical Examiner rules on death of teen at Berea group home
Published: May. 21, 2014 at 7:43 PM EDT
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OhioGuidestone Group Home, Berea (January)
OhioGuidestone Group Home, Berea (January)

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a teenage boy at a Berea group home a homicide.

Kenneth Barkley, 15, was rushed to Southwest General Health Center from the OhioGuidestone Group Home on January 7. The teen was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Medical Examiner tells 19 Action News that Barkley's cause of death is traumatic asphyxia during altercation.

19 Action News Reporter Scott Taylor reported in January that Barkley apparently became upset after being denied access to a computer and got physical with a case worker.

Police reports claim Kenny got upset and took a couple of punches at a caseworker and that caseworker bear hugged Kenny to the ground and he never got up.

The initial 911 call came from another case worker inside the home.

Caller: Kenny is on the floor.

911: Kenny is on the floor. Is he injured?

Caller: Is he injured? He is just laying there.

Five minutes later a second 911 call was made.

911: Why is he unconscious?

Caller: He got into an altercation with another staff.

In an exclusive interview with 19 Action News investigative reporter Scott Taylor Kenny's mom Ranita Simmons said she believed her son's death wasn't a tragic accident.

"I just need some answers. What happened to my baby? What happened to my baby and why?," asked Ranita Simmons.

So far no arrests have been made and the case is headed to the grand jury.

OhioGuidestone released the following statement:

On January 7, 2014, Kenneth Barkley, a resident at our Mahler Group Home, passed away after becoming violent with one of our staff members. The Cuyahoga County coroner's report, released today, has ruled on the manner of Kenneth's death.

Time hasn't made this tragedy easier. Our prayers remain with Kenneth's family, friends and other residents. We are grateful for the concern of the entire community during this very traumatic time for our family at OhioGuidestone. We continue to stand by and support the staff members involved in this tragic event.

We trust that continued focus on our mission, to strengthen children, families and communities will carry us through this difficult time.

Meantime Cuyahoga County Children Services, who is the legal custodian of the teen, says the group home staff did properly follow their State Training in the restraint of Kenny Barkley.

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