Former cop who left 3-year-old daughter to die in hot patrol car sentenced to 20 years

A former Mississippi police officer who left her 3-year-old daughter to die in her hot patrol car while she had sex with her supervisor was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.

Cassie Hope Barker, 29, of Picayune, pleaded guilty March 18 to manslaughter in the death of her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer. According to the Sun Herald in Gulfport, the former Long Beach police officer admitted during her plea hearing what she was doing Sept. 30, 2016, while her daughter was dying of heatstroke.


She initially told Judge Larry Bourgeois she went to Clark Ladner's home after a 12-hour shift to "talk about a personal matter," the Sun Herald reported. When Bourgeois pushed for more information, Barker admitted she was having sex with Ladner, who was then her supervisor in the department.

Barker said she fell asleep afterward, the newspaper reported. Ladner has said he did not know Cheyenne was strapped into a safety seat in the patrol car outside.

>> Related story: 3-year-old who died alone in mother’s police car described as ‘funniest, happiest little girl ever’

The Sun Herald reported that the heat index that day was more than 100 degrees. When Barker found Cheyenne unresponsive four hours after she'd left her, the toddler's body temperature was 107 degrees, the newspaper reported.

The patrol car was running and the air conditioner was on, but the air it was blowing was not cold.

Barker and Ladner were both put on administrative leave after Cheyenne's death. They were later fired, the Sun Herald said.


The newspaper reported that Barker did not tell Bourgeois during her plea hearing, but she is currently pregnant with her second child. Her attorney, Damien Holcomb, said she plans to put the baby up for adoption.

"We were told there are a million people who have babies while they are in prison," Holcomb told the Sun Herald. "The way it works is, once you are medically cleared (after the birth), you go back to whatever prison you are supposed to go back to."

Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, has expressed outrage over his daughter’s death, especially because it was not the first time Barker had left the girl in the patrol car alone. In the previous incident, she left their daughter in the car while she went inside a Gulfport store.

A passerby saw Cheyenne and called the police, the Sun Herald reported.

Hyer told the newspaper he was never told Cheyenne had been found alone in her mother’s patrol car. He has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department, which placed Barker on leave after the first incident, and Mississippi Child Protective Services.

"As a parent, you are supposed to protect your child, and Cheyenne is gone because her mother didn't protect her -- not once but twice," Hyer told the Sun Herald. "May God have mercy on her soul."


Hyer said he pictures his daughter’s suffering every time he closes his eyes.

"I still see her smiling and laughing in my head and I would assume that smile and laughter turned to pain and suffering in that instance," Hyer told the newspaper. "It's an image I don't want to have, but it's one I can't get rid of."

Barker lashed out at Hyer during her sentencing, telling the judge she was Cheyenne’s sole caregiver.

"I want to say that the only person I owe an apology to was my daughter, because nobody else was in her life but me," Barker said in a crumbling voice, according to the Sun Herald.

She told Bourgeois she had not spoken to Hyer for months before Cheyenne’s death.

“He doesn’t even know what her favorite toys are,” Barker said.

Hyer admitted he had not seen his daughter for about a year before she died, the newspaper reported. He had moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after catching Barker cheating on him with Ladner, he said.

He also had not paid child support because he said the topic “never came up.” He said he offered to send money for Barker to bring Cheyenne for a visit to Jacksonville, but the visit never took place.

"I have blamed myself for every what if, should have and could have," Hyer told the judge. "My life has been a complete hell without Cheyenne. This will never get easier."

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