Supervisor Did Not Impregnate Cop Whose Older Child Died in Hot Car While Pair Had Sex

Cassie Barker will place her baby for adoption, says her attorney

Photo: Facebook

The decision by Mississippi police officer Cassie Barker to leave her 3-year-old daughter outside in her patrol car on a 100-degree day while she had sex with her supervisor had fatal consequences for the child.

Fours hours after exiting the car with the air conditioner blowing, Barker returned to find her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, unresponsive. The child was rushed to a hospital; officials said her body temperature topped 107 degrees. She died from heatstroke.

On Monday, Barker was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 2016 incident, leading the 3-year-old’s father, Ryan Hyer, who was separated from Barker, to mourn the loss of the girl as his “innocent angel.”

Pregnant now by another man, the 29-year-old Barker will begin serving her sentence as an expectant mother — but the new child is not the former supervisor’s, Barker’s attorney tells PEOPLE.

Cassie BarkerCredit: Hancock County Sheriff's Office
Cassie Barker. Hancock County Sheriff's Office

“The father is not the same officer who was her former supervisor that was present with her at the time of the incident,” says the attorney, Damien Holcomb. “She did tell me it wasn’t him. I’m not sure who the actual dad is. … She just hasn’t released that to me, and I haven’t asked.”

The supervisor, former Long Beach, Mississippi, police Sgt. Clark Ladner, and Barker both were fired from the municipal force after the Sept. 30, 2016, incident.

Barker, who is five months pregnant, has decided to place the baby for adoption. “She has a family that’s going to take [the baby],” says Holcomb.

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Barker will start serving her sentence at a corrections facility in Rankin County, which operates a maternity ward, until after the child is born, he says. Barker is expected to be transferred to another state prison once the child has been placed.

Toddler Car Death
Cassie Barker outside court on Oct. 6, 2016. Amanda McCoy/The Sun Herald via AP

Currently 11 states — but not Mississippi — and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons offer nurseries where incarcerated woman can care for their newborns for a period extending to several months. In California, inmates who qualify for a Community Prisoner Mother Program can spend as many as six years raising their child in shared quarters.

The practice has raised concerns by those who question whether it’s unconstitutional to house children in corrections facilities, reports NBC News and The Washington Post.

In a statement to PEOPLE, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said: “It is the incarcerated pregnant woman’s decision regarding whom she allows to get her baby after she has delivered. The guardian may or may not be a relative. It is the mother’s choice to choose adoption. The mother can see her child during regular prison visitation. Nursery facilities are not available in the [Mississippi] prisons. Delivery is treated as a medical condition and regulated by usual and customary medical practice through the obstetrician and delivery hospital.”

Barker and Hyer had been separated for a year prior to the child’s death after Hyer learned that Barker had been having an affair with her supervisor, Hyer said in court at Barker’s sentencing.

In her sentencing appeal to Judge Larry Bourgeois, Barker said that while she took full responsibility for Cheyenne’s death, she had been raising the couple’s daughter alone after Hyer moved from Mississippi to Florida.

“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 court Monday. “The last time I spoke to him [Hyer] was in July [2016, two months before the incident],” she said. “He doesn’t even know what her favorite toys are.”

Barker had left the child unattended in a vehicle on a previous occasion in April 2015, according to CBS News. After Barker left the child in her car while she went into a store, a passerby alerted Gulfport police, and child welfare workers took temporary custody of the girl. That incident led Barker to be suspended for a week without pay from the police force.

“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 said. “May God have mercy on her soul.”

When Barker pleaded guilty on March 18, according to CBS News, the judge told her: “I don’t know what I could ever do to you that could be worse than what you’ve already experienced … You will forever be entombed in a prison of your own mind.”

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