Jurors have acquitted a young Ohio mother of killing her newborn. Brooke Skylar Richardson was acquitted of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Richardson was found guilty of abuse of corpse. (Sept. 12)
CINCINNATI – A young mother accused of killing her newborn was sentenced to time served Friday, which allowed her to go home. Her parents said they were taking her to the emergency room first.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, who has struggled with an eating disorder for years, weighs only 89 pounds, according to her lawyers.
She was sentenced to seven days in jail after being convicted of gross abuse of a corpse, but the judge said that since she had already spent seven days in jail, she was free to go home.
Richardson, who remained mostly silent through her eight-day trial, repeatedly apologized.
“I am forever sorry,” she said, then turned to the baby’s father’s family. “I’m sorry.”
She said she believes she’s learned and grown in the past two years.
Richardson was accused of killing her newborn daughter after giving birth to her at her home in 2017 when she was a senior in high school. She told no one that night and buried the child she named Annabelle in her own backyard.
Her lawyers argued for her release for health reasons, saying she struggles with an eating disorder.
Her father, Scott, asked the judge, “Get her home soon, so we can take care of her.”
Judge Donald Oda released Richardson but told her she acted with “grotesque disregard for life.” He said the law restricted the sentence he could pass down.
“In all of this mess that we have in this, what often gets overlooked is how precious life is,” Oda said. “It should be protected. It should be guarded.”
Oda said he knew “in his heart” that the child would be alive if Richardson had made better decisions.
“Some people may say, ‘This is America, we kill unborn babies every day,’ but I don’t consider it that way,” Oda said.
The Richardson family embraced after the sentence was read. Her parents shook as they hugged each other.
Oda ruled the remains of the baby should be turned over to the Richardsons after he secured a promise from Scott Richardson that the burial would be proper and the site would be accessible to the family of the father, Trey Johnson.
A missing granddaughter
Johnson’s mother, crying, spoke in court before the sentencing.
“Two years, four months and one week,” Tracy Johnson said. “That’s how old my granddaughter would be if she were here.”
She said that even though Richardson knew with certainty who the father was at the time of birth, her family discovered that information from a Facebook post nearly six months after her son took a DNA test.
She said that her son is a “totally different person” and that she can’t even bring herself to hold babies anymore.
She told the judge that Richardson was trying to deprive her family again by requesting the remains of “a baby she called ‘it’ ” during police interviews.
Acquitted on a murder charge
A trembling and tearful Richardson was acquitted on murder and manslaughter charges Thursday in the death of her baby. The jury convicted her of gross abuse of a corpse, a felony.
She was charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and gross abuse of a corpse.
She could have faced up to life in prison.
The three most serious charges hinged on the prosecution convincing the jury Richardson gave birth to a live baby girl. It was on those charges the jury returned a “not guilty” verdict.
Richardson’s defense maintained during the eight-day trial that Richardson had a stillbirth and panicked.
Gross abuse of a corpse falls into the lowest category of felony in Ohio.
The law reads, “No person, except as authorized by law, shall treat a human corpse in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities.”
Contributing: Sonia Chopra. Follow Cameron Knight on Twitter: @ckpj99
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