A former Long Beach police officer has been set for trial in the death of her child, who officials say died after she was left in the back of her mother’s patrol car for four hours.
Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois set an April 2, 2018, trial date for Cassie Barker during her arraignment Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court.
Barker, 28, is accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Heyer, by leaving her strapped in her patrol car while Barker visited at the home of her supervisor on Sept. 30, 2016. Cheyenne was found unresponsive in her car seat on Standard-Dedeaux Road in Kiln.
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 it was not blowing cool air when the child was found unresponsive about 1:52 p.m. The heat index that day exceeded 100 degrees.
Officials have said Cheyenne’s body temperature was 107 degrees when she was taken to Hancock Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Barker said she had gone to her supervisor’s home after they got off work and they fell asleep while talking, according to sheriff’s department officials.
Then-Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell fired Barker and Clark Ladner, a shift supervisor and a patrolman.
Barker turned herself in on Oct. 6, 2016, on a charge of manslaughter. A Harrison County grand jury upgraded the charge to second-degree murder in September.
Second-degree murder is a killing “done in the commission of an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved heart, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual,” state law reads.
The penalty is 20 to 40 years in prison. The lesser charge of manslaughter carries a prison term of two to 20 years.
Barker pleaded not guilty to the new charge on Monday.
She had been suspended a year earlier for conduct issues, according to Long Beach police officials, who said they were angry and sad over the child’s death.
Barker had also left Cheyenne unattended in her car in Gulfport, where a passer-by called police, officials said.
Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, has said he plans to sue the Long Beach Police Department and the Mississippi Child Protection Services. Hyer told the Sun Herald he was never notified his child was left in a car the first time.
She remains free on a $50,000 bond set by a judge in a phone call with a defense attorney. Sheriff’s officials said they should have been allowed to talk to the judge before he set the bond.