Trigger warning: baby death, violence
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, who was accused of killing her newborn baby and burying her in her backyard, has been found not guilty on most of the felony charges against her, including aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment.
The jury, which deliberated just over four hours, did find Richardson guilty of gross abuse of a corpse, a lesser charge. Her sentencing is scheduled for Friday morning, but the former cheerleader's lawyers don't expect her to serve any jail time, saying she’s "done enough time in this small town."
The trial, which began on September 3, included contradictory testimony, alarming texts, and an uncertain confession, left jurors debating between whether Richardson was a damaged young woman who gave birth to a stillborn child and was coerced by police into confessing to murder or a panicked teenager who murdered her baby because she was afraid to tell the truth about her pregnancy.
"Unwanted. That's what Brooke Richardson's daughter was," said Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Julie Kraft during her closing arguments today.
Although a forensic pathologist initially told authorities that the baby had been burned, she later recanted her testimony. Richardson, however, had told police that she tried to cremate the baby with a lighter. Additionally, a psychologist testified that Richardson had been sexually abused when she was 12 by a boy she admired. This trauma, according to the expert, had resulted in a personality disorder in which Richardson sought to please everyone, particularly her parents and other authority figures.
Assistant Prosecutor Steve Knippen believed that Richardson didn’t want to have a child because her life was privileged, and she intended to keep it that way. "My belly is back," Knippen told jurors on Thursday, referring to a text Richardson sent the same day she disposed of the baby. "That belly was her child. That belly was her daughter with fingers and toes and hair on her head. A child she tossed in the dirt," Knippen added.
BabyGaga will update this story as it develops.