Matt Barker will not be facing charges after a devastating mistake, accidentally leaving his 1-year-old adopted daughter in a hot car for hours to die after forgetting to drop her off at daycare.
The tragic accident made national headlines this week, with Katera Barker dying after being left inside the family’s pickup truck outside Nashville in temperatures that nearly reached 90 degrees. As CBS News reported, Matt Barker was supposed to drop Katera and her 5-year-old sibling off at a daycare at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, but forgot the infant in the car. He returned home and parked the car in the family’s driveway, then took a rideshare to the airport to leave for a business trip.
It wasn’t until much later when Barker’s wife, Jenny Barker, went to pick up the children at daycare that she learned Katera had never been dropped off. She called her husband, who realized that the infant may have been in the backseat the entire time. Jenny found Katera in the backseat and tried to perform CPR, but the baby girl was declared dead at a hospital a short time later.
As Clarksville Now reported, Matt Barker appeared to be flustered by a change in his morning routine. He normally dropped both children off at daycare, but was running late and took the 5-year-old directly to school. Barker had a flight out of town shortly after returning to his home.
The incident was investigated this week, but local officials said Matt Barker will not face criminal charges for the mistake. The decision caused some controversy among those who believe that Barker should have faced some kind of charges, with some accusing police of exerting a different standard for the wealthy white couple.
Police and prosecutors have declined to press charges in other cases where children died after being accidentally left in cars, though have sometimes brought murder charges in incidents that appeared intentional. In December, 2016, father Justin Ross Harris was sentenced to life in prison for intentionally leaving his 22-month-old son in a car for seven hours in sweltering heat in the summer of 2014.
As NBC News noted, police found evidence that Harris had been sending sexually explicit messages to women and underage girls in the weeks leading up to the boy’s death, and said he intentionally killed his son to be free from his paternal responsibilities to pursue relationships with these women and prostitutes.
Matt Barker had not spoken publicly about the accidental death of his daughter.