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.