As promised, the defense team for a Carlisle teen accused of killing her newborn baby girl and burying it in the back yard of her parent’s house in May 2017, has filed a notice of appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In October, the 12th District Court of Appeals sided with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office concerning doctor-patient privilege in the case of Brooke Skylar Richardson, prompting defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers to say the issue would be appealed to the state’s highest court.
Richardson, now 19, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering in death of her infant daughter. She is free on bond.
The appeals court ruled that physician-patient privilege doesn’t apply in the case and that the teen’s conversations with two doctors should be admitted as evidence in her upcoming trial.
That notice of appeal was filed on Friday, just a week shy of the deadline, according to court records. It is now up to the high court to decide if it has jurisdiction to take the case, after the prosecution files a response.
Documents requesting the court take the case were filed under seal, with the defense stating, “The physician-patient privilege statute exists for a specific purpose to create an atmosphere of confidentiality and to encourage patients to make a full disclosure of their conditions to their physicians without fear that those details will later become public.”
The prosecution has 30 days to file a response to the notice of appeal.
Typically the supreme court takes two to four months to decide whether it will hear the case, according to Anne Yeager, Supreme Court public information manager.
“We are in a holding pattern,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell told the Journal-News.
A conference with the trial court has been scheduled for next week by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda III, but both Fornshell and Rittgers say it will likely not result in forward movement of the case due to the latest appeal.
Both the defense and prosecution had appealed a split decision handed down by Oda, just days before the trial was scheduled to begin this past spring.
Oda ruled that doctor-patient privilege did not apply to anything Richardson said about burying the infant’s remains. However, Oda ruled that another conversation Richardson had with a different doctor was privileged.
Richardson’s defense team argued that all of the teen’s conversations with her doctors about her pregnancy or what may have happened afterward were protected by doctor-patient privilege.
Warren County prosecutors, however, said a conversation Richardson had with one of her doctors — that she buried the remains in the backyard, which prompted the physician to call police — is not privileged because of a doctor’s duty to report abuse, neglect or other harm to a child.
“Physician-patient privilege was waived due to application of … a statute that places a duty on persons with special relationships to minors to report suspected or known abuse or neglect, where there is reasonable cause to suspect based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in similar circumstances to suspect, that a child suffered a physical wound,” a summary of the 12th District decision states.