Competency evaluation ordered for woman in infant death

Woman faces nearly 35 years in prison
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Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Catherine R. Barker appears in Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court for a hearing Tuesday beside her attorney, Jevon Jones Jaconi. Barker faces felony counts of neglect resulting in the death of an infant, failing to report the death of the child and attempting to hide or bury the corpse. The 2-month-old infant, Brandon Barker, was her son.

A Shawano woman charged in the death of her 2-month-old child will undergo a competency evaluation to determine whether she is mentally fit to stand trial.

Catherine R. Barker, 22, faces felony counts of neglect resulting in the death of an infant, failing to report the death of the child and attempting to hide or bury the corpse. The infant, Brandon Barker, was her son.

Barker appeared Tuesday for what was expected to be a preliminary hearing. Instead, her attorney requested a competency evaluation first.

A review hearing in the case was scheduled for Nov. 12.

In the meantime, Barker is still being held on a $100,000 bond.

The child was discovered by police during a welfare check in on Sept. 28.

According to the criminal complaint, Barker had sent text messages to two people, telling them the infant had died of suffocation from a blanket it had pulled up over its face and stating she planned to bury the child somewhere out in the country.

She also stated she planned to leave the area after burying the child, according to the complaint.

Barker also said in one of her text messages the night before that the child was ill, according to the complaint, but she did not seek medical attention.

Barker told police she had given the baby CPR and tried to revive him. She said she didn’t call 911 due to “panicking and not knowing what to do,” according to the complaint.

One of the people she texted contacted police who conducted a welfare check at Barker’s residence, according to the complaint.

Barker could face a maximum prison sentence totaling nearly 35 years if convicted on all three counts.

However, those charges could be added to or enhanced pending the results of the child’s autopsy and results of blood and urine samples from Barker, according to the district attorney’s office.

Barker’s only employment was as a babysitter for her sisters’ children, a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, the district attorney’s office said at her initial appearance last week.

One of the sisters also lives at the home, along with Barker’s father, who is the homeowner. Barker moved in about 5-6 months ago, according to statements her father made to police.

According to statements from Barker to police in the criminal complaint, the infant’s father, her fiance of three years, has been in prison since June, and there has been no contact since then.