Judge issues gag order in Carlisle buried baby case

Judge issues gag order in Carlisle buried baby case

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Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

A Warren County judge has issued a gag order precluding all parties involved in the Brooke Skylar Richardson case from making statements.

The motion from Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II came just minutes after Prosecutor David Fornshell posted on Facebook that the baby Richardson allegedly delivered in May was a girl.

Richardson, 18, is charged with aggravated murder and other felonies for allegedly purposely killing the baby after birth on May 6 or 7, then burning and burying the body in the backyard of her Eagle Ridge Drive residence.

She was arraigned Monday by Oda, who set a $50,000 bond that was posted three hours later.

The “interim order on courtroom decorum and pretrial publicity” pertains to: Fornshell; Richardson; her parents, Michael and Kimberly Richardson; defense attorney Charlie M. Rittgers and his law firm; Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims; Warren County Coroner Russell Uptegrove; and Warren County Clerk of Courts Jim Spaeth.

“It is rarely the practice of this court to issue an order without opportunity for a hearing in advance. But, since the arraignment Monday, each day sees new challenges that jeopardize the guarantee of a fair trial. This right does not just belong to the defendant. The right to a fair adjudication in a deliberative forum belongs to the prosecution, the alleged victim and the public as well,” Oda wrote in the motion that was filed at 11:16 a.m. today.

Specifically, Oda said the parties named are prohibited from publicly discussing or disseminating evidence gathered in connection with the case or any other document or tangible that is reasonably likely to be presented as evidence at trial.

The judge also prohibited the parties from making public statements about the case or posting comments on social media.

Oda included 13 links to media coverage, both local and national, as proof of his motion.

But he noted coverage thus far has been fair.

“The court notes that the coverage of this case by the press has been remarkably fair. Both sides have expressed their positions, and neither side appears to have the “upper hand” when it comes to news coverage,” Oda wrote in the motion. “The public commentary and the right that every American now seems to have to weigh in on social media regardless of their knowledge of the facts are largely irrelevant. People can think what they want, say what they want, tweet or post what the want — the court is confident a Warren County jury has the discernment to disregard this information and focus on the facts. However, witnesses talking about facts of the case in advance of trial, press releases, attorneys, talking about evidence, lack of evidence or trial strategy substantially impairs the court’s ability to conduct a fair and impartial trial.”

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