A former Long Beach police officer whose child was left in the back of her patrol car and died has been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.
A Hancock County grand jury handed down the indictment for Cassie Barker, who was arrested on a manslaughter charge after her daughter died Sept. 20, 2016.
Cheyenne Hyer was 3 years old.
Barker was served with the indictment Thursday, Chief Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker confirmed.
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Barker had been arrested on a manslaughter charge. The upgraded charge from the indictment carries stiffer penalties. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Second-degree murder is punishable by 20 to 40 years.
Sheriff’s officials have said Barker left her child in the back of her patrol car about four hours while she visited at the home of her male supervisor when they got off duty that morning. Cheyenne was strapped in the back of her car seat outside the home of Sgt. Clark Ladner on Standard-Dedeaux Road.
Sheriff Ricky Adam has said the patrol car was running during the four hours the child was in the car and the air-conditioner was on but was not blowing cool air when the child was found unresponsive about 1:52 p.m.
Cheyenne’s body temperature was 107 degrees when she was taken to Hancock Medical Center, officials have said.
Barker had reportedly arrived at Ladner’s home about 9 a.m., and has said they fell asleep while they were talking.
The Long Beach Board of Aldermen voted to fire Barker and her supervisor after the child died.
It wasn’t the first time Barker had been accused of leaving her child in her car. Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, said it happened in Gulfport on April 6, 2015, and no one bothered to tell him.
Her bond was set at $50,000 through an attorney’s call to Judge Tommy Carver, a maneuver sheriff’s officials said was highly unusual.
It’s unclear when Barker will be called to court for arraignment.
Sun Herald staff writer Margaret Baker contributed to this report.