Brooke Skylar Richardson, the 20-year-old Ohio woman charged with murdering her newborn daughter, burst out crying upon hearing the verdict at her trial. Jurors acquitted her of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment. She was convicted, however, of abuse of a corpse. Her defense contended with the prosecution’s insistence that she ended the victim’s life on purpose. They argued the child was stillborn.
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced Friday at 11 a.m. ET for the abuse of a corpse charge. She faces 6 months to a year behind bars.
According to prosecutors, an OB/GYN told Richardson in April 2017 that she was pregnant. Instead of telling her family, however, she hid this, and even lied to her mother. The defendant gave birth just days later, kept it a secret, and buried the baby in the family’s backyard. The incident went undiscovered until the following month, when another doctor confronted her about the results of her pregnancy. Police began looking into this.
As seen on interview footage, Richardson told investigators she gave birth while going to the bathroom. After repeated denials, she said she might have squeezed the baby. She also admitted to attempting to cremate it.
#SkylarRichardson – Richardson says she didn’t think the baby was breathing and says, “I may have squeezed her too hard.” She also says she loved her and named her Annabelle. pic.twitter.com/Z0M9uzcCK2
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) September 9, 2019
The prosecution tried to show that Richardson was self-absorbed, even displaying a callously chipper attitude the day after the baby died.
Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steve Knippen told jurors at closing arguments that Richardson at first described the baby as “it.” She only came up with a name–Annabelle–after law enforcement was involved.
Her defense argued that her admission of guilt was a false confession borne by the controversial Reid technique. A doctor for the defense said that Richardson had a mental disorder that makes her feel like she has to follow authority figures.
RICHARDSON: Dr. Stuart Bassman says he administered several tests to Skylar and her parents to determine that she has a personality disorder that makes her feel the need to comply with people in authority – @WCPO
— Evan Millward (@EvanMillward) September 11, 2019
During closing arguments, her defense lawyer Charles M. Rittgers went as far as to compare Richardson–18 at the time of the confession–to a 12-year-old, by the way she held the investigators’ hands and asked for her mother.
As he tried to show, her ostensibly happy attitude after the death had a less sinister explanation: She suffered from an eating disorder, and as part of this, often put on a smile for the world. It was her way of dealing with negative situations.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]