Prosecution opposes request to seal Brooke Skylar Richardson case

Prosecutors oppose Brooke Skylar Richardson’s request that a Warren County judge seal her conviction for abusing her baby’s corpse because doing so would diminish the seriousness of her offense, they said.

The motion requesting a seal was filed last month by her attorney, Charles M. Rittgers, 19 months after Richardson was released early from probation by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II.

Richardson, now 23, was found guilty in September 2019 of gross abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony, following the death of her baby girl whom she buried in the backyard of her parents’ Carlisle home in May 2017. After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to three years of community control.

ExploreBrooke Skylar Richardson, convicted of abusing baby’s corpse, requests seal

Oda, who presided over the trial, released Richardson after 14 months of her 36-month probation.

In the opposition to seal motion, Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steven Knippen said that without law enforcement’s discovery of a full-term baby girl in Richardson’s backyard, no one would have known the child existed.

“Rather (Richardson) intended to carry on with her life as if nothing occurred, with no consequences or accountability for her treatment of the child’s remains,” Knippen wrote. “Notably now, in seeking to seal this matter, (Richardson) is requesting the court to judicially declare that her treatment of the child’s remains and her conviction for the same ‘shall be considered not to have occurred.’”

A sealing of the conviction would essentially mean the case would no longer exist in the criminal justice system.

A hearing on the seal request is scheduled for Sept 27.

ExploreCarlisle woman convicted of abusing her baby’s corpse released early from probation

In the short motion requesting the seal, Rittgers said “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.”

Richardson, then an 18-year-old high school senior, gave birth to the baby in secret and buried her in the backyard. She was acquitted on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering after months of litigation and a trial that received national media coverage.

During the hearing to release Richardson from probation, Oda said Richardson was convicted of a low-level felony.

“There is no reason for me to invest the time and resources of my probation department in supervising you,” Oda said.

To Richardson, Oda said, “There is nothing … that leads me to believe you do not follow the rules or are going to commit any crimes in the future.”

In November 2020, Richardson’s attorney said she has a job, is in college and continues with mental health treatment. Richardson is working part-time for her attorneys’ law firm, Rittgers and Rittgers, while in school, and she intends to study law.

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