Attorneys for Brooke Skylar Richardson filed the document on Aug. 12, according to a Warren County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas docket reviewed by Law&Crime on Wednesday.
“There are no criminal proceedings currently pending against Ms. Richardson, and the interests of the defendant in having the official record of this case sealed outweigh the legitimate needs, if any, of the state in maintaining such records,” the defense reportedly wrote in the motion.
Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers told Cincinnati FOX affiliate WXIX that the request was “routine” for a low-level felony; he said it would help his client “gain meaningful employment and education opportunities in the future.”
David Fornshell, a Warren County Prosecutor, told the Hamilton, Ohio Journal-News that his office had received the defense motion and will issue a separate response.
Prosecutors argued at the murder trial that Richardson never planned to keep her baby, concealed her pregnancy, gave birth in her home in secret on May 7, 2017, and then tried to cremate and bury the baby’s remains in her backyard. Prosecutors also alleged that Richardson lied when medical staff at her doctor’s office accidentally sent her mother information which revealed the pregnancy. Prosecutors additionally presented evidence that Richardson looked up ways to rid herself of the infant.
After giving birth at age 18, prosecutors argued that Richardson callously shared selfies to display the weight she’d lost.
During trial, Rittgers — who represented Richardson with his father Charles H. Rittgers — pointed to an eating disorder that caused Richardson’s weight to fluctuate as among the reasons the pregnancy wasn’t noticeable. He also pointed to hawkish oversight by Richardson’s mother regarding the defendant’s weight as one rationale for the selfie photo and several messages that were latched onto by prosecutors.
“I’m literally speechless with how happy I am,” Richardson texted her mother in one such missive. “My belly is back omg I am never ever ever evertrrr letting it grt like this again your about to see me look freaking better than before omg.”
Rittgers further suggested that the infant was stillborn. He said the child didn’t breathe, move, or make sounds after birth. Richardson swaddled the child, named her Annabelle, and buried her remains, the defense attorney asserted.
Prosecutors said Richardson admitted to the police that the child was alive for about five minutes before she killed the girl by squeezing her. Richardson’s defense attorney countered that police needled the confession out of his client using the controversial Reid technique during an interrogation; the defense said any resulting confession was false.
Prosecutors charged Richardson with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence, and abusing a corpse. The evidence tampering charge was dismissed. A jury acquitted Richardson of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment charges; however, the jury convicted Richardson of abusing the baby’s corpse.
One of the jurors who spoke out after the verdict said prosecutors did not prove the most serious charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Richardson was sentenced in Sept. 2019 to seven days in a county jail, but a judge gave her credit for time served and said the defendant would therefore serve three years on community control — in essence, probation.
The trial judge later agreed to an early termination of that form of probation in November 2020.
Dayton, Ohio NBC affiliate WDTN said the effect of the seal, if granted, would allow Richardson to apply for most jobs without mentioning the conviction.
Richardson is now 23, according to Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT. Her trial was the subject of several Law&Crime productions, including the Facebook Watch series “Buried with Love” and an episode of “Killer Cases.” The latter is embedded below:
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