‘No remorse for a heinous crime. Who is to blame?’
After nearly four hours jury acquits Ohio cheerleader who buried her newborn infant in her parent’s backyard
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, was acquitted of murder, manslaughter, child endangerment on Thursday
She was convicted of gross abuse of a corpse for burying her baby in May 2017 and faces a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison
Richardson, 20, was 18 when she gave birth to a baby girl in May 2017 in her family’s upstairs bathroom in Carlisle, Ohio
The teen who got pregnant after a brief fling, had told no one about the pregnancy
She went into labor in the dead of the night, delivered in her bathroom and buried the baby in her yard without informing any member of the household
Richardson confessed to a gynecologist two months later and they phoned the police
Prosecutors said Richardson killed the baby and that it was alive when born
She also admitted that she set fire to the infant’s body
Prosecutors said Richardson who was back n the gym working out hours after giving birth, was obsessed with maintaining the image of a perfect life
Richardson broke down in tears as she was found NOT GUILTY of murder – defendant’s mom Kim, who did not testify, also broke down into sobs as the verdict was read aloud
Skylar Richardson, 20, had been facing life in prison if convicted of all the charges.
They included aggravated murder, manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse and child endangerment. She has also been charged with tampering with evidence but the judge removed that particular charge during the trial.
But after deliberating for around three hours on Thursday, a jury found her not guilty of the most serious charges. Instead, she was convicted on the lesser charge of gross abuse of a corpse and now faces a maximum of one year in prison.
Skylar wept as the verdict was read out in court and told her parents as she was led away in handcuffs afterwards ‘I love you’.
Her mother Kim whispered back to her: ‘We love you baby… it’ll be OK.’
She will spend at least one night in jail before being sentenced on Friday morning. The minimum recommended sentence for felony gross abuse of a corpse in Ohio, where the trial took place, is six months imprisonment.
But her attorneys said after the verdict on Thursday that they do not expert her to be given a sentence.
‘She’s done enough time in this small town,’ they said.
She told no one that she was pregnant and her family says they could not tell because her weight fluctuated so much as it was.
Skylar said she gave birth to a stillborn on the toilet in the upstairs bathroom of her family home in Carlisle, Ohio.
Prosecutors believe the baby was born alive and that Skylar killed her because she did not want her to intervene with her ‘perfect life’.
They also claimed that she set fire to it, initially basing the allegation on the finding f a pathologist who said the bones – once they had been excavated – looked burned.
The pathologist later recanted her claim but before she did, detectives interviewed Skylar for a second time.
During that interview she confessed to ‘trying to cremate her a little’ after being told by them repeatedly that they ‘knew she did something with fire’.
Defense attorneys argued that their client’s confession was coerced.
She had denied burning the baby or harming it several times in that interview and during her first, two-hour interview where she said the baby was still born.
On Thursday, both prosecutors and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments.
Prosecutors said it was ‘convenient’ for her to have given birth to a dead baby and asked jurors not to believe her.
‘All of the stars did not just align for her to have a stillborn child that she didn’t want, told no one about, made no preparations for and concealed and buried her in the backyard, all so that she could maintain the appearance and image of her perfect life.
‘That’s ridiculous,’ one of the prosecutors said.
Deputies emerge with the baby’s remains from the backyard of Richardson’s parents home in Carlisle, Ohio on July 14, 2017
Prosecutors showed the jury this photograph of the infant’s skeletal remains after they were dug up from the family’s yard
They also referred back to a text message Skylar sent her mother in the hours after she delivered the baby where she said she was happy to have her ‘belly back’.
The message read: ”I’m literally speachless (sic) with how happy am… I am literally so excited now just for dinner to wear something cute yayyyy my belly is back and now I’m takin(sic) this opportunity to make it amazing.’
Her mother, Kim, was obsessed with her daughter’s weight and they frequently discussed it.
‘If you want to know how she truly felt about her daughter, after just putting her in the ground, what washer reaction, before she was ever charged, before she ever spoke with the police, back when she thought she got away with everything.
‘I’m literally speechless with how happy I am.’
The jury deliberated for three hours then returned two questions to the court.
The judge referred them to earlier instructions.
On Wednesday, as the defense rested its case, they called on a psychologist who had treated Skylar when she was younger to testify.
He said that she had been sexually abused as a 12-year-old boy a ‘boy’ she trusted and ‘looked up to’ and that it had given her a personality disorder.
The personality disorder, he said, fed her anorexia and made her eager to please.
The defense showed photos of the upstairs bathroom in the Richardson’s home where Skylar gave birth to the baby quietly in the middle of the night in May 2017. During her second police interview last July the cheerleader recounted birthing her baby girl on the toilet
‘Skylar shared with me, when she was 12 or so, she was having insecurity about her appearance, whether she would be liked, whether she would be accepted, typical behavior… so a boy started showing her attention, a boy that Skylar looked up to, who Skylar admired.
‘She began to respond, and then he began to abuse her. He began to abuse her sexually,’ Dr. Stuart Bassman said.
He went on to say that as a result of the incident and the subsequent ‘disorder’, she was ‘unable to defend herself’.
Prosecutors objected to the testimony, claiming it was irrelevant.
Other witnesses called to the stand were high school teachers at her school who said she often sat with autistic children at lunch so that they did not have to eat alone, and her classmates who say she was so meek at school that they had to defend her from bullies.
‘I’ve never even seen Skylar be mean to another human being she would never hurt another human being, especially her own baby,’ one teenage girl said.
He described her as his ‘best friend’ and recalled how she would sneak food, like donuts, while her parents were not home.
Prosecutors said Skylar did not want a baby to intervene with her ‘perfect life’
Skylar, who has remained relatively emotionless throughout the trial, cried as he spoke.
The defense’s final witness was a marketing expert who had made a virtual design of the family’s home.
It is unclear why they called him beyond trying to humanize Skylar and show the bathroom where she gave birth and her bedroom.
The teenager conceived Annabelle in August 2016 after a brief fling with another teen, Trey Johnson.
She says she did know that she was pregnant until April 2017, long after she had broken up with Johnson, during a visit to a gynecologist to obtain birth control pills.
The doctors told her she had around 10 weeks to deliver the baby, but 11 days later, she have birth at around 3am in her family home.
Skylar did not tell anyone in the 11 days between the two incidents that she was pregnant. She convinced her mother, who received an email which referred to her being pregnant, that it was a mistake and started taking birth control pills.
She said later that she did not know what she would do when the baby was born and that she ‘didn’t think about it’.
After giving birth to the baby, Skylar dug her a shallow grave in her family’s yard and buried it, marking the spot with flowers.
She then returned to the gynecologist, looking for more birth control pills, and confessed to what she had done when asked by the doctor what became of her pregnancy.
On July 14, she was taken in for questioning by the police. During the interrogation, she said she’d given birth to a stillborn and panicked afterwards so buried her in the yard.
She was released without charge.
Six days later, on July 20, she was hauled back to the police station. There, detectives told her that they ‘knew’ she had tried to set fire to the baby or the area around the baby.
They were basing their comments on a claim made by a forensic pathologist who had been asked to consult on the case. That pathologist told them that because the bones they had excavated in Skylar’s yard looked slightly darker, they believed they had been charred.
The pathologist later changed their opinion and another has since admitted that there is no physical evidence on the baby’s body to show it was in any way burned.
But in her second police interview, after denying burning the baby at all multiple times, Skylar told the detectives, at their direction, that she had tried to ‘cremate’ the baby with a lighter.
She also said she ‘might’ have squeezed her ‘too hard’ and that while she thought the baby was born dead, she might have in fact accidentally killed her.
Skylar’s father Scott took the stand on Tuesday and told the court it was the biggest regret of his life that his daughter did not have an attorney present for the second interview.