LEBANON ― Brooke Skylar Richardson was released Tuesday from probation nearly two years early, and more than a year after being convicted of abusing her baby’s corpse.
The Carlisle woman, now 21, teared up during the hearing as she made a brief statement: “I am sorry for everything I have put everyone through ... I know that doesn’t seem like a lot at all.”
Richardson was convicted by a jury in September 2019 of abuse of a corpse following the death of her baby girl. After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to three years of community control for the fifth-degree felony.
Warren County Judge Donald Oda II, who presided over the trial, released Richardson after only 14 months of her 36-month probation had been completed.
Richardson’s attorneys requested the release in a motion last month, and following the brief hearing, the judge made his decision.
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 lengthy trial.
The paternal grandmother of Richardson’s baby, Tracy Johnson, was in court for the short hearing urging the judge not to terminate the probation.
Johnson said Richardson could have made different choices before during and after the birth, but the choices she made show a disregard for life. She said Richardson has shown no remorse for her actions and has not reached out “to the people whose lives she destroyed.”
“You had the option of giving her up to six months in prison with time served ... I don’t think three years probation is too much to ask,” Johnson said to the judge.
Oda said there is a perception and a reality to this case, and the reality is 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. The judge said probation is not punishment, but “it is an opportunity to demonstrate why the stated prison term of 12 months in prison should not be imposed.”
To Richardson, Oda concluded, “There is nothing ... that leads me to believe you do not follow the rules or are going to commit any crimes in the future.”
According to the attorney, she has a job, is in college and continues with mental health treatment. Richardson is working for her attorneys' law firm, Rittgers and Rittgers, and Richardson intends to study law.
“She has completed two semesters of college, has a cumulative GPA of over 3.8 and currently has a GPA of 4.0 for her most recent semester,” attorney Charles M. Rittgers wrote in the motion. “In addition to school, she has also worked approximately 10 hours per week. She sought alternative employment, but was rejected each time due to the fact she is on probation."
The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office did not respond in writing to the motion. During the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Steve Knippen said, "(the sentence) was more than reasonable and therefore we believe she should fulfill it in its entirety.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to comment.
• Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
• ‘There was no proof at all’: Juror describes Brooke Skylar Richardson verdict decision
• ‘Bring closure for Annabelle’: Richardson family to bury baby’s remains more than 2 years later
• WATCH all videos from Brooke Skylar Richardson trial
• Timeline: Events in the Carlisle buried baby case
• Quotes: Key things said during the Richardson trial
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