Attorneys for a Carlisle teen accused of killing her infant and then burning and burying the body in the backyard of her home filed a motion to have her trial moved from Warren County. The judge provided a strongly worded response.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, is charged with aggravated murder and several other felonies. Prosecutors say the cheerleader gave birth to a baby girl on May 6 or 7, caused the baby’s death and then covered it up by burning and burying the newborn in the yard. She is free on $50,000 bond.
Charles H. Rittgers and Charles M. Rittgers filed a motion Friday for a change of venue to move the trial “for the reasons contained in the following memorandum.”
That memorandum apparently was four pages long and contained specifics of the case. Last year, Warren County Judge Donald Oda II issued a gag order prohibiting all parties involved in the case from making public statements about the case.
In his response to the change of venue motion, Oda said, “this case is not going to be tried in the press.”
Oda added in his response that the memorandum attached by the defense “is highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the administration of justice in this case.”
The judge said the defense memorandum “contained references to opinions of expert witnesses, who may or may not be called as witnesses at the trial of this matter and directly quotes at least one expert report …”
The filing was described by Oda as a “self-serving recitation of facts,” with characterization of the defendant’s mental state and other information that poses a “serious and imminent threat” to the jury pool.
The judge ordered the defense memorandum supporting the change of venue motion stricken from the record. Only pages 1 and 6 of that document, the request and attorneys’ signatures, is now part of the record.
Oda said the case will not be tried in the press, “nor will it be tried in the pleadings. It is particularly troubling that such an inflammatory and prejudicial memorandum would accompany a motion for change of venue.”
The judge then limited attorneys from making reference to multiple elements of the case, including the identity of prospective witnesses, information regarding the alleged victim, the possibility of agreed disposition between parties and any opinion or discussion of evidence.
A pre-trial conference in the case is scheduled for Feb. 20. A hearing is set for March 14, and Richardson’s trial is scheduled to begin April 16.
Defense attorneys have said Richardson did not kill her baby. The prosecution previously said the baby was born alive. Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove has said the exact cause of death may never be known due to the condition of the remains.
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