Appeals hearing in Carlisle dead baby case will be open to public

A September hearing in the case of a Carlisle teen awaiting trial on aggravated murder charges for allegedly killing her newborn baby will be open to the public.

In April, just days before trial, the defense and the prosecution appealed a split decision by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II concerning the use of medical records at Brooke Skylar Richardson’s trial.

Since then, attorneys have been busy filing briefs, but as ordered by Oda, content of those briefs outlining both the prosecution and defense stances are sealed.

MORE: Trial for Carlisle teen delayed after judge’s decision on medical records

Richardson, who was 18 last July when the remains of her baby girl were found buried in her family’s backyard, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.

The hearing on the specific elements of law will be held Sept. 11 in the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown. Defense attorneys requested an extension of oral arguments to 30 minutes for each side. The standard is 15 minutes per side.

Appeals Administrative Judge Robert Hendrickson filed an entry on Aug. 16 granting an additional five minutes for each, according to court records obtained by this new outlet.

The Richardson defense team had filed a motion to hold the oral arguments under seal and close it to the public.

“Miss Richardson submits that this court and the parties will be required to discuss the underlying facts and privileged communications in this case at oral argument. Prohibiting Miss Richardson from discussing her privileged communication and the underlying facts of this case at oral argument will prejudice her ability to have effective assistance from her appellate counsel and would limit this court and parties from fully addressing the important legal issues …,” the motion, signed by attorneys Charlie H. and Charlie M. Rittgers and attorney Neal Schuett.

But the appeals judges denied that request on Aug. 16, meaning the hearing will be open to the public.

MORE: Brooke Richardson off house arrest, but judge imposes other restrictions

“It is constitutional right for trials to be public, and we consider this part of the trial process,” said Scott Ritter, assistant appeals court administrator.

On April 12, Oda issued the decision concerning Richardson’s medical records and both sides appealed. That stopped the trial scheduled to begin April 16.

The defense team appealed after the judge ruled physician-patient privilege did not apply to conversations between Richardson and a doctor at Hilltop OB-GYN, who after an appointment on July 12 called Carlisle police to report the teen had a child and buried it in the backyard.

The prosecution also appealed a portion of information between a second physician and Richardson, as well as others, that were ruled privileged by the judge — unless a defense expert is called to testify based on information from that physician.

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