Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Home Aide Sentenced In Woman's Choking Death; Admitted Having Affair With Victim's Husband
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 2, 2004

CLEVELAND, OHIO--A former home health aide was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for allowing a woman to choke to death on a bagel soaked in milk and cream cheese.

Wanda Kanner, 49, pleaded guilty on March 3 to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the 2001 choking death of Darlene Amberik. Kanner had originally been charged with murder. She could have faced a maximum 30 year prison sentence.

Amberik, 49, who had multiple sclerosis, died in her home after vomiting some of the bagel back into her airway.

Kanner's defense attorneys claimed that Amberik begged her for the food, against doctors' orders, and that Kanner was simply accommodating her "friend's" wishes.

Prosecutors argued that Kanner and Darlene Amberik's husband, John, saw the victim as a financial burden. Kanner admitted having an affair with Mr. Amberik around the time of Darlene's death.

Judge Michael Russo told Kanner that she should have known Amberik was not able to swallow solid food. Along with the manslaughter charge, Russo sentenced her on charges of theft, practicing nursing without a license, and filing a false tax return. He also ordered her to repay a union insurance fund that had paid for Amberik's care. Kanner had fraudulently represented herself as a nurse to bilk $195,000 from the insurer.

Kanner did not speak during the sentencing, but submitted a statement for the judge to read in which she denied trying to harm Amberik.

Investigators had believed Darlene's death was an accident until an anonymous tip led them to discover a year later that Mr. Amberik had bought an engagement ring for Kanner just before his wife died.

Mr. Amberik was not charged in his wife's death.


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.