Cheerleader Accused Of Murder Has Personality Disorder, Psychologist Says

Trigger warning: baby death, violence

Brooke Skylar Richardson, a former high school cheerleader accused of killing her newborn baby, reportedly told police she had tried to cremate the remains. The twenty-year-old, who faces charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangerment, gave birth to a baby girl in May 2017, then allegedly killed the newborn and buried her in the backyard.

Richardson’s defense team has argued that the baby was stillborn and that she buried the body in the middle of the night while her family slept because she didn’t know what else to do. “I didn’t think she was breathing, and I squeezed her too tight,” Richardson reportedly told police. “I loved her.”

Richardson also reportedly told police the baby had been alive for five minutes and that she had seen the baby’s arms move and heard her crying. The body was discovered two months after the girl was born. By then, the skin had decomposed, and no recognizable organs remained. The police were only able to recover only tiny fingernails, hair and bones.

An autopsy revealed that the baby had suffered fractures to the skull, while Dr. Susan Brown, a forensic pathologist with the Montgomery County Coroner's Office, testified that evidence indicates that the baby’s death was a homicide. A forensic anthropologist, however, told the jury that the fractures could have possibly occurred after the baby died.

Richardson reportedly told her father that she “tried to cremate the baby.” According to a police report, she told authorities that she lit the baby’s foot on fire with a lighter and put the flames out when they reached her chest. Meanwhile, defense attorneys have argued that her alleged confession was coerced and insist the baby was never born alive.

Yesterday, a friend of Richardson painted a picture for the jury of a sweet, considerate girl who went out of her way to please people. One of her teachers at Carlisle High School also testified that despite being a popular cheerleader, she often sat next to a student with autism at lunch so he wouldn’t have to eat alone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stuart Bassman, a psychologist, testified that Richardson was "unable to defend herself" during police questioning because of what he called a personality disorder and that she was terrified of rejection and abandonment. He added that she was sexually abused when she was 12, which causes her to retreat into a "very lonely, isolated world" and has resulted in an eating disorder.

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Yesterday, the defense rested after a virtual tour of the Richardson home and additional testimony from a forensic pathologist. Closing arguments are expected today. After those are complete, the jury presumably will begin deliberating.

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