HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A former South Mississippi police officer will spend the next 20 years in prison for the death of her three-year-old daughter.
Cassie Barker, who was a cop in Long Beach at the time of the toddler’s death, was sentenced Monday. She pleaded guilty to culpable negligence manslaughter earlier this month, admitting to leaving her daughter in her patrol car for hours.
Police said three-year-old Cheyenne Hyer was left in her mother’s patrol car for four hours while Barker had sex with one of her supervisors at his home after her shift was over. According to authorities, Barker fell asleep after having sex, leaving the toddler in the patrol car.
The car’s air condition was reportedly turned on, but it wasn’t blowing cold air. When Cheyenne was found, police said she was unresponsive and had a temperature of 107 degrees.
Judge Lawrence Bourgeois spoke directly to Barker, telling her that she failed in her responsibility to “protect and serve” as a mother and as a police officer.
“You left your own flesh and blood in that car while you were in an air conditioned house to have sexual relations,” he said.
Barker was given a chance to address the judge. She tried to hold back tears as she said the only person she owes an apology to is her daughter, adding that she raised Cheyenne alone and regrets causing her death.
Cheyenne’s father Ryan Hyer, who was also in the courtroom for the sentencing, said he believes Barker was just trying to gain sympathy with the judge.
“I was starting to get mad when I was starting to hear some of those things,” he said. “I took care of Cheyenne. From daycares, to picking her up, to feeding her, to dressing her."
Hyer also spoke at Barker’s sentencing, saying no prison sentence could ever make up for the death of his child.
“I can’t change what happened,” he said outside of the courthouse.
Hyer said he had a hard time processing his daughter’s death because he believes it could have been prevented. Barker had left the girl in a vehicle on at least one prior occasion, which was investigated by law enforcement, said authorities.
Hyer asked Judge Bourgeois to consider the maximum penalty when sentencing Barker, even though Barker’s lawyer requested the judge deviate from the 20-year sentence.
“You lose your child, I don’t think there’s no amount of sentencing or time that could make up for that,” Hyer said after the sentencing. “But this is how the justice system works. With what the judge had to work with, I’m happy that he gave her the max that was allowed by law.”
Hyer has filed lawsuits against Long Beach Police Department and Mississippi Child Protective Services for negligence and dereliction of duty in relation to his daughter’s death. He says now that Barker has been convicted, those two lawsuits can move forward.
Barker, who is three months pregnant, is currently in the Hancock County Adult Detention Center.