One of the attorneys for acquitted murder defendant Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, said she was in grief when taking a gym selfie soon after the death of her newborn baby daughter. Prosecutors in Warren County leaned in hard on the defendant’s apparently cheerful attitude displayed in text messages. Defense lawyer Charles M. Rittgers said Tuesday, however, that his client was communicating with her mother and boyfriend, two people who didn’t know about she had been pregnant and delivered a stillbirth.
“Skylar was grieving inside, but her entire life, she did not want to put her internal burdens on others, and those she loved,” said attorney Charles M. Rittgers on the Law&Crime Network. “And frankly at the time, she didn’t want her mother or her boyfriend to know that she had just had a stillbirth. So those text messages were to two people who had no idea that she had just had a stillbirth.”
— Law & Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) September 4, 2019
Prosecutors said that Richardson hid her pregnancy from everyone, gave birth, and attempted to cremate the baby’s body. Rittgers said at trial that the defendant had an eating disorder. Her weight often fluctuated, so it wasn’t unusual for others not to know about the pregnancy. Some evidence suggested she learned about being with child just weeks before the contested birth. The infant — whom Richardson named Annabelle — was stillborn, the defense argued. The state said the girl was murdered and that Richardson’s actions, which included a lack of follow-up doctor’s appointments, suggested premeditation.
Richardson was acquitted on all charges last week except abuse of a corpse. She was sentenced to three years of community control, a form of probation in Ohio.
Rittgers and other defense counsel argued at trial that his client falsely confessed to the murder after having been pushed around by interrogators. Rittgers also argued that Richardson did not attempt to cremate the infant’s body. It was scientifically impossible for her to burn the body with a lighter as alleged, he said.
“It showed people she admitted to things that we can conclusively prove aren’t true,” he said.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network.]