Defense team wants diary, lighter fluid excluded in Carlisle buried baby trial

As a scheduled trial date moves closer, attorneys for a Carlisle woman accused of killing her newborn baby girl in 2017 and burying her in her parents’ backyard continue for file motions regarding evidence.

Two motions filed today by attorneys Charles H. Rittgers, Charles M. Rittgers and Neal Schuett ask for evidence regarding lighter fluid taken from Brooke Richardson’s home and evidence regarding her diary to be excluded at trial.

A can of Kingford charcoal lighter fluid was taken from the Richardson garage by law enforcement, and the defense teem argues it is not admissible at trial because it is not relevant and may be prejudicial.

“Any individual who owns a charcoal grill or fire pit would likely to have similar product. Further, the state’s evidence does not support any consequential value to lighter fluid,” the defense team said in the motion.

The defense team pointed out the prosecution initially said Richardson burned her baby.

“The state’s experts, however, have indicated that the baby was not burned. As such, to continue to argue that erroneous narrative that Miss Richardson burned her baby would not only serve to prejudice the defendant and confuse the jury,” the defense team wrote.

Earlier this month, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Richardson, now 20, due to “defects in the institution of prosecution of this case … the state’s deprivation of Miss Richardson’s constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process.”

That motion is also asking for grand jury testimony to be reviewed “in camera” or by a judge and attorneys, specifically that of forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray, who examined the remains of the baby girl when they were unearthed.

The defense attorneys say the prosecution presented information about Murray’s testimony to a grand jury when seeking to indict Richardson that she has since recanted.

“The indictment and prosecution in this case are defective because both are based on Dr. Murray’s recanted belief that the bones she examined were charred,” the defense attorneys wrote in the motion.

Murray later realized that her belief that the bones were charred was incorrect after a second examination of remains on Aug. 17, 2017, according to the defense.

“While the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office unintentionally presented false information to the grand jury in this case, the indictment and prosecution are defective all the same and should be dismissed in accordance with Miss Richardson’s rights to a fair trial and due process,” the defense team said in the motion.

In the motion concerning Richardson’s diary, the defense team says Richardson suffers from bulimia, anorexia and binge-eating disorders.

“Law enforcement took Miss Richardson’s diary, which they found in her bedroom,” the defense says in the motion. “In her diary she discusses her eating disorders. The diary contents were written well in advance of her pregnancy and most of the content is from her junior high years.”

The defense says the diary is inadmissible because it is entirely irrelevant to her prosecution.

“It is simply the thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl struggling with eating disorders … there is no connection between this diary and the death of Annabelle,” the defense team said in the motion.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Monday ahead of Richardson’s scheduled trial on Sept. 3. She is charged with aggravated murder charge, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

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