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Brooke Skylar Richardson Found Not Guilty of Murdering Newborn Daughter


Brooke Skylar Richardson, the 20-year-old Ohio woman on trial for allegedly murdering her newborn daughter to hide the pregnancy, was found not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment. She was convicted of abuse of a corpse, however.

Richardson, then 18, allegedly only learned about being with child just over a week before the full-term birth; her defense lawyer Charles M. Rittgers tried to show jurors that this wasn’t unusual. No one, not even her boyfriend at the time, realized she was pregnant. After all, Richardson’s weight fluctuated 30 to 40 pounds her entire life due to an eating disorder.

The question was whether Richardson, a high school student at the time, killed her newborn girl to hide the pregnancy. Prosecutors called the doctor who revealed the pregnancy to Richardson to testify in this case.

Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steve Knippen told jurors that Richardson went out of her way to hide the pregnancy. She lied after the medical center accidentally sent her mother Kim Richardson information showing she was pregnant; she looked up ways to get rid of a baby, Knippen said.

Both sides used the word “obsessive” to describe Kim Richardson’s attitude toward the defendant’s weight.

“Her mother now I think realizes that the way in which she talked to Skylar, cheering her on about losing weight was like throwing gasoline on a fire,” Rittgers said.

Knippen said this mother’s obsession motivated Brooke Skylar Richardson’s single-minded determination to hide the pregnancy, even to the point of murder. Her mother told her she would have “no future” if pregnant as a teen.

Richardson gave birth by herself, without medical attention, on May 7, 2017. Rittgers insisted that the baby was stillborn: She wasn’t breathing, or moving. The defendant named the girl Annabelle.

Prosecutors, however, said this was a murder. Richardson allegedly buried the child in the backyard in order to hide the pregnancy, went to the gym just hours later, and callously displayed a chipper attitude.

Rittgers argued that the chipper attitude was just part of Richardson’s long-term behavior. As a sufferer of an eating disorder, she often put on a smile for the world. He told jurors in closing arguments on Thursday that she falsely confessed to investigators.

[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]

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