- Ed Richter Staff Writer
A Carlisle teen has been indicted on aggravated murder and four other felony charges after prosecutors say she killed her newborn baby and then burned the child’s body just two days after her senior prom.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, was taken into custody Friday afternoon shortly after a Warren County grand jury indicted her on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
County Prosecutor David Fornshell said at a news conference that despite the special felony charge of aggravated murder, Richardson would not face the death penalty if convicted. If convicted, aggravated murder could carry 20 years to life in prison to life in prison without parole.
Fornshell said he could have sought the death penalty, but said he chose not to.
Richardson is expected to be arraigned at 11 a.m. Monday in Warren County Common Pleas Court, according to court records.
Fornshell said that two days after the Carlisle High School prom, that sometime between May 6 and May 7, Richardson gave birth to the newborn and caused the child’s death. She reportedly burned the infant and buried the infant in her backyard, Fornshell said.
According to Fornshell, everything occurred over a period of a few hours after the baby was born. He said the baby was born at about 38 weeks to 40 weeks — full term. Carlisle police were notified July 14 by Richardson’s OB-GYN’s office about a possible stillborn baby, Fornshell said.
He would not say how long the baby was alive before it was killed.
“We may never know the medical cause of the baby’s death,” he said.
He declined to say what the sex of the baby was.
Fornshell declined to speculate on motive, but said it was a perception issue and the teen’s mother was concerned about appearances.
He said the evidence that has been obtained indicates that “this was something that would not be accepted.”
Fornshell estimated that many people in Carlisle knew Richardson was pregnant at some point prior to the birth through social media.
The identity of the father and whether any others were involved in the child’s death remains under investigation, Fornshell said. He said the search warrants will remain sealed in order to not reveal what was found and seized during searches at her home in the 100-block of Eagle Ridge Court.
“There are a lot of questions our office still has,” Fornshell said.
The prosecutor’s office believes it knows who the father is but said DNA tests many be needed to determine the identity.
Fornshell said the most difficult part of this case for him, is why the newborn baby wasn’t just driven to a fire station and dropped off it it was an unwanted pregnancy. Under Ohio’s safe haven law, a woman who does not want to keep her baby can take it to any hospital, police or fire station with no questions asked.
Richardson, a cheerleader who graduated this year from Carlisle High School, was planning to attend the University of Cincinnati this fall, her lawyer Charles M. Rittgers has said. In an email response Saturday, Rittgers said he would not me making any statements because they have yet to receive any discovery or evidence from the prosecutor’s office.
Investigators have conducted three separate searches in a 10-day period last month month before she was arrested and charged with reckless homicide.