Ex-Cheerleader Found ‘Not Guilty’ of Killing Newborn Daughter Buried in Backyard

Brooke "Skylar" Richardson is escorted out of the courtroom after the verdict in her trial at Warren County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Lebanon, Ohio. The Warren County jury deliberated for four hours before acquitting Richardson of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges. She was …
Nick Graham/The Journal-News via AP, Pool

Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, was acquitted Thursday of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of her newborn daughter who was found buried in her family’s backyard.

The young Ohio woman, who was accused of killing her baby girl and burying her in the backyard, was, nevertheless, found guilty of abuse of a corpse and scheduled for sentencing Friday, reported NBC affiliate WDTN.

Richardson potentially faced life in prison had she been convicted of the murder charge. She now faces a potential sentence of up to one year in prison, but could be placed on probation since she is a first-time offender.

Richardson’s lawyers argued in her defense that she named her newborn daughter Annabelle and was scared and saddened because her baby was stillborn, reported NBC affiliate WLWT.

According to that report, Richardson’s case created a firestorm in her hometown of Carlisle, “with Facebook pages devoted to it and some critics trying to record the Richardson family’s comings and goings for social media.”

On two occasions, Richardson’s attorneys requested to move the trial that was receiving daily coverage on Court TV, arguing the intensified publicity had been driven by prosecutors. The judge denied these motions, however.

Prosecutors argued Richardson was upset she became pregnant and wanted to live out her “perfect life,” including her plan to attend the University of Cincinnati. They claimed the former cheerleader hid her pregnancy and buried the newborn in her family’s backyard in May 2017, soon after the senior prom.

Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen said Richardson sent two text messages in the days after her daughter’s birth, reported WDTN:

“Shortly, after murdering her daughter and placing her daughter in the dirt, and not even having the decency to cover it with a blanket, she sent two elated text messages: My belly is back, my belly is back,” Knippen said.

Knippen painted Richardson as being obsessed with her appearance and ‘perfect life.’

He focused on her actions during the night of the birth and said it was proof she planned on killing the baby.

“If it came out not breathing, why didn’t she try to get it help?” Knippen asked. “If she thinks something is wrong, why didn’t she get her parents, her brother, call 911 or go to the hospital.”

The baby’s remains were discovered about two months after Richardson gave birth. A forensic pathologist testified the baby died from “homicidal violence.”

According to the news report, prosecutors said Richardson had searched online for “how to get rid of a baby.”

Stuart Bassman, a Cincinnati psychologist, however, described Richardson as vulnerable, immature, and exhibiting signs of a dependent personality disorder that causes her to want to please those in authority. He said, “Skylar was being manipulated” into making false statements during interrogations.

Assistant prosecutor Julie Kraft, however, suggested that Richardson’s fear of abandonment by her family and boyfriend may have motivated her to commit such extreme acts.

 

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