The young Hermiston mother accused of killing her infant daughter has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
Michelle Barry, who will be 23 in May, was facing a charge of first-degree manslaughter for giving an overdose of narcotics to her baby. She has been in the Umatilla County Jail since her arrest Nov. 15, 2007. Barry's trial started Tuesday.
During a recess, Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa and defense attorney Doug Fischer agreed to the lesser charge and a six-year, three-month prison sentence for Barry, with credit for time served. In addition, Gushwa asked Judge Garry Reynolds to add another year and three months to the sentence because "the victim was a vulnerable victim."
Reynolds agreed and sentenced Barry to seven-and-half years in prison.
Under first-degree manslaughter, Barry was facing a 10-year term in a state prison.
Barry said she was sorry for what she had done to 36-day-old Jackelyn Dawn Beyers, who died March 29, 2007 after Barry crushed the pain reliever Oxycontin and the anti-depressant citalopram into the baby's bottle. The baby's father, Chris Beyers, later found his daughter dead on the couple's couch.
"I will pay the price," Barry told Beyers and his family in court, tears in her eyes, her voice catching as she spoke. "I don't expect you to forgive me because I don't forgive myself."
Beyers said he was feeling a mixed bag of emotions over the sentencing.
"Relieved, mad, angry, sad, happy, everything rolled into one," the 22-year-old Beyers said.
While he doesn't believe Barry intentionally tried to hurt their child, he wondered what was going through her mind at the time.
"You don't give prescription drugs to a baby," Beyers said.
In the two years since Barry was arrested, Beyers said he has moved on with his life. He has a new girlfriend, but he will never forget his first-born child. Beyers said he feels he will never forgive Barry for what she did to their child.
"I wish she had got more," Beyers said of Barry's sentence.