Trigger warning: baby death, violence
Brooke Skylar Richardson has been acquitted of charges that she murdered her newborn. The former cheerleader, who will go home today, will serve just three years of probation for burying the body.
Richardson, 20, was found not guilty yesterday of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. The Ohio jury, which deliberated for four hours and 25 minutes, did find her guilty of gross abuse of a corpse after she disposed of the baby’s body by burying it.
In court today, the judge sentenced Richardson to three years of probation as well as seven days in jail, with credit for the seven days she has already served. If she violates her probation, she can end up spending up to a year in jail. Before the sentencing, Richardson’s father, Scott Richardson, asked to address the court and asked that his daughter be released. “My daughter is suffering from an eating disorder and we are concerned about her health,” he said.
A high-school cheerleader accused of killing her newborn baby so she could keep her 'perfect life' has been cleared of murder.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 13, 2019
Brooke Skylar Richardson broke down in tears as the jury delivered its verdict
Read more on this story here: https://t.co/MNIJRkOr4m pic.twitter.com/45RYQJQP7J
The mother of Trey Johnson, who was Richardson’s boyfriend and the baby’s father, read a statement to the court. “Not only did I lose my first grandchild, but my baby boy lost his daughter,” said Johnson. “For a baby that she called ‘it,’ we’re just as much the family as she is. I’ve watched my son become a different person. I won’t disclose his medical diagnosis because she’s done enough to him. I can personally tell you that I’ve personally been seen for depression, panic attacks, and I’m a shell of the person I was.”
“I would have taken her in with Trey without a question. Now, instead, every May 7, I don’t get to have a birthday party for my first grandchild. Instead, I send her balloons to heaven, to tell her how much her daddy loved her, and how much I loved her,” she added.
Richardson, the final person to address the court, told the judge, “I would do anything that you ask. I can sometimes be selfish, but I’m getting better. I’m forever sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve hurt a lot of people. I am really, really sorry. And I understand.”
NO JAIL TIME: Skylar Richardson received a commuted 7-day sentence and probation after being convicted of abuse of a corpse. She can expect to have her criminal record expunged three years after her probation ends. https://t.co/jTget2jewJ— WKYT (@WKYT) September 13, 2019
Judge Donald Oda II didn’t seem very sympathetic towards Richardson and referred to the baby, who had been named Annabelle, in his decision. “I believe if you had made different decisions, Annabelle would still be here. I think that your choices before birth, during birth and after birth show a grotesque disregard for life.”
Richardson, who was a high school senior when she gave birth two years ago, was accused of killing and burying her newborn daughter in her backyard in July 2017. Prosecutors alleged she was not prepared to sacrifice her life of privilege and become an 18-year-old single mom. Meanwhile, defense attorneys claimed that the baby was stillborn and could not be legally considered a child.
The facts of the case still remain unclear. In the weeks after finding out she was pregnant, Richardson never returned to the doctor for an ultrasound, bloodwork, or any other treatment, and ignored calls from the doctor and assistants. She also told police that she had considered an abortion, but it was too late to have one. The defense maintained that she did not murder her baby but panicked after the girl was stillborn and simply disposed of the body.
Meanwhile, the prosecution contends that mere hours after disposing of the body, Richardson texted her mom, "I am literally speechless with how happy I am my belly is back OMG ..." She also told police that she saw the baby move and cry after she was born.