The defense team for a Carlisle woman accused of killing her newborn baby in 2017 and burying her in the parents’ backyard is again requesting the jury view the alleged crime scene.
Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers filed a motion Wednesday requesting the jury be permitted to view the home of Brooke Skylar Richardson in her murder trial scheduled to begin Sept. 3 in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Richardson, now 20, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
In April 2017, Judge Donald Oda II denied the defense’s first request for a jury view of the residence and an interrogation room at the Carlisle Police Department.
In the new motion, the defense argues that viewing the home “will assist the jurors in conceptualizing and putting the evidence in context where a picture cannot. The location of Miss Richardson’s bathroom in proximity to her family members’ bedrooms cannot adequately be captured in a picture. Moreover the path that Miss Richardson used to travel from her bathroom to her bedroom through the house to garage and backyard cannot adequately be captured in a photo.”
The defense pointed out in the motion that the prosecution did not object to the previous request for a jury view and said it would only add three hours to the trial.
In Oda’s reasoning for denying the first jury view request, he said the jury views are not proper in this case and noted that in such views jurors are instructed the view of the scene is not evidence “and the only purpose of the visit is to help the jury understand evidence as it is presented in the courtroom.”
Oda said in 2017 the view of the inside of the Richardson home is “inherently problematic.”
“It is nearly impossible to insulate the jury from extraneous matters and there is substantial risk that the jury will form opinions based on the nature, appearance and/or ‘feel’ of the home that will bleed into their subsequent deliberations,” Oda said.
The judge added that photos, videos, floor plans and maps are sufficient in giving the jury an understanding of the scene.
Oda also said he found no “probative value” in jurors viewing the police department’s interrogation room.
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