When former Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker admitted this week to causing the hot-car death of her 3-year-old daughter, she did not mention she was pregnant with her second child.
“She plans to put the baby up for adoption,” her attorney Damian Holcomb told the Sun Herald in an exclusive interview.
“We were told there are a million people who have babies while they are in prison,” he said. “The way it works is once you are medically cleared (after giving birth), you go back to whatever prison you are supposed to go back to.”
Barker, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the Sept. 30, 2016, death of her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer. The state recommended a 20-year sentence.
The former officer had just gotten off a 12-hour shift when she picked up her daughter and stopped by her police supervisor’s house “to talk about a personal matter.”
When Judge Larry Bourgeois pushed her for more information, Barker said she was having sex with her supervisor, Clark Ladner, while her daughter was dying of a heatstroke in the back of her patrol car. Barker said she fell asleep afterward, and Ladner has said he didn’t know the child was in the car.
When she went back to her patrol car four hours later, Cheyenne Hyer was unresponsive. Barker said she attempted CPR but the child had no vital signs when paramedics arrived.
Cheyenne never regained consciousness. Her body temperature was 107 degrees.
Will the county pay?
After pleading guilty Monday, Barker was locked up at the Hancock County jail pending her sentencing in April in Bay St. Louis.
Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said Barker is not getting any special treatment or being held in protective custody because she is a former cop.
She is instead in the jail’s general population.
Adam said he wants Barker gone from the jail as soon as possible because he doesn’t want the county to have to pay her medical bills. In the meantime, he said, the county will make sure Barker goes to any doctor’s appointments.
“When they have a scheduled appointment, we take them to the doctor,” he said, at the expense of the county. “We always hope they are not here when they have the baby..”
As soon as Barker is sentenced, Adam said, “we will be sending her to Rankin County and they can process her from there.”
Like with other prisoners who deliver babies in custody, the state will ultimately pay for any medical bills.
Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, has filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department, the state Department of Child Protective Service, Barker, and then-Police Chief Wayne McDowell for failing to tell Hyer about the first time Barker left their daughter alone in car.
Gulfport police responded after a passerby noticed the child in the car alone and called police.
After the first incident, McDowell placed Barker on leave.
McDowell fired Barker and Ladner after Cheyenne’s death.