Attorneys for a Carlisle woman accused of killing her newborn baby girl and burying her in the backyard of her parents’ house in May 2017 are requesting a severance of charges and three trials.
Two days after Brooke Skylar Richardson was in Warren County Common Pleas Court for a pre-trial hearing, attorneys Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers filed the motion of severance on Wednesday.
Richardson is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
The defense team is requesting that the court order one trial for aggravated murder, a second trial for involuntary manslaughter and child endangering charges and a third trial for the tampering with evidence and abuse of corpse charges.
The defense argues that trying all the charges together would be prejudicial to Richardson.
There is “always a danger when several crimes are tried together, the jury may use the evidence cumulatively” and while evidence “upon any one of the charges might not have persuaded (the jurors) of accused’s guilt, the sum of it will convince them as to all,” the defense team wrote in the motion.
The defense argued the prosecution has admitted it does not intend to keep its presentation of each offense “simple and direct.”
“Testimony regarding, but not limited to, a lack of prenatal care, Ms. Richardson’s initial reaction to (a doctor) when she learned she was pregnant and Ms. Richardson’s decision to not tell anyone she was pregnant were all cited by the State on numerous occasions to this court and the Twelfth District Court of Appeals as evidence that it would use to try to meet its burden of proving aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and abuse of a corpse.”
The defense also pointed to prosecution’s intention to use the identity of the biological father, Richardson’s internet research and browsing history and the fact that the labor occurred at Richardson’s residence in the middle of the night instead of a hospital all as evidence of multiple but separate offenses.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the state will oppose the motion and will file a reply soon.
At Monday’s hearing, the defense attorneys and Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Knippen agreed that there had been no plea offers for the defendant, who is now 20.
Another pre-trial hearing was set for Aug. 19 ahead of Richardson’s scheduled trial on Sept. 3.
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