A former Mississippi police officer admitted to a judge that she was in a house, having sex with her supervisor and then falling asleep, while her 3-year-old daughter was dying of heat exposure in a patrol car outside.
Cassie Barker, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the 2016 death, CBS Newsreports. Cheyenne Hyer was unresponsive, still strapped into her car seat, when her mother returned.
When the girl was taken to a hospital, officials say, her body temperature was 107 degrees. Barker had left the car running and the air conditioner on while she was in her supervisor’s house, but the unit wasn’t blowing cold air. Both officers have been fired by the Long Beach department.
"Every time I close my eyes, I picture her suffering and then I picture her laying in this coffin," Cheyenne's father said, per the Sun Herald. "It’s an image I don’t want to have, but it's one I can’t get rid of."
Prosecutors recommended the maximum sentence of 20 years for Barker; Judge Larry Bourgeois said he needed more time to consider her punishment.
She's scheduled to be sentenced April 1.
"I don't know what I could do to you that could be more than what you have already experienced," he told Barker. "You will be forever entombed in a prison of your own mind."
(In another case, tragedy was averted.)