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‘Happy’ Murder Defendant Took Gym Selfie Hours After Killing Newborn Daughter, Prosecutor Says


Opening statements in the murder trial of Brooke Skylar Richardson details two competing versions of the defendant. Prosecutors say she callously buried her newborn daughter in the backyard of her family’s home and, just hours later, went to the gym.

She texted her boyfriend about the previous night, saying it “was like the worst ever and I didn’t go to sleep till 5:30 but I feel soooooo much better this morning,” according to Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steve Knippen. She wrote that she was “happy.”

Defense lawyer Charles M. Rittgers insisted, however, that his client had a stillbirth. She swaddled the child, who was not breathing, moving, or making sounds, he said. She named the girl Annabelle.

As for the texts, Brooke Skylar Richardson had an eating disorder issues for years, and she often put on a smile for the outside world, he said. This was not unusual behavior for her. The attorney suggested that doctors would testify that people deal with stillbirths differently.

Rittgers said Richardson learned she was pregnant in her first ever OB-GYN appointment on April 26, 2017. She had intended to get birth control pills. Instead, she discovered that she was 37 to 39 weeks pregnant.

The defendant and others in her life didn’t know about this. After all, her weight fluctuated 30 to 40 pounds her entire life, said the defense.

“Her weight went up and down constantly,” Rittgers said. He told jurors that the doctor overestimated the due date as 10 weeks (July 5th).

Instead, she gave birth May 7, 2017, and hid this from her family.

In the time leading up to this event, the medical center accidentally sent the Richardson’s mom Kim Richardson an email containing information that the defendant was pregnant, said Knippen. He highlighted the mother and daughter’s “dysfunctional” relationship. He said there’s evidence Kim was “obsessed” with Brooke’s appearance and monitored her weight. The mother texted Richardson, saying that her life “would be over,” and she would have “no future” if pregnant. Confronted with the truth, the defendant lied, and said it was a mistake. She was going to hide it from everyone, said the prosecution.

Rittgers acknowledged that Kim Richardson was obsessed, but he construed this approach as an honest mistake.

“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,” he said.

Police learned about the death after Richardson had an appointment with another doctor in June to refill her birth control, and the doctor asked her about what happened to the pregnancy.

The question before jurors is whether Brooke Skylar Richardson caused her daughter’s death.

Prosecutors say yes, she did. She admitted it to police.

Rittgers said that police needled Richardson into a confession. They said that they couldn’t give up the girl’s body unless she told them the truth. She told them an unrealistic story about burning the body with a lighter, he said. At the time, a doctor who examined the body on behalf of the authorities said the bones were charred. The doctor later admitted the mistake, and walked back the claim, said Rittgers. Prosecutors will not bring this doctor up to testify, he said.

[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]

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