Judge: Jury will not view teen’s home in Carlisle buried baby case

Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II has denied a request by Brooke Richardson’s defense team to have the jury view two locations during the teen’s aggravated murder trial, which is scheduled to begin later this month.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, of Carlisle, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering for the May 2017 death of her infant daughter, whom defense attorneys say she named Annabelle.

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Brooke Skylar Richardson, the Carlisle teen charged with murder in the death of her infant found buried in the back yard of her home, attends a pre-trial hearing March 28 in Warren County.  (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Attorneys Charles H. Rittgers and Charles M. Rittgers filed a motion last month requesting the jury view the Richardson home in Carlisle as well as the Carlisle Police Department’s interrogation room.

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On Tuesday, Oda denied that request. In his reasoning, the judge said the jury views are not proper in this case and noting 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 the view of the inside of the Richardson home is “inherently problematic.”

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“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.

Warren County search for potential evidence at the Carlisle home where on July 14 they found remains of an infant buried in the backyard.  (STAFF/JIM NOELKER)

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.

Rittgers and Rittgers could not be reached today for comment.

Richardson’s trial is scheduled to begin April 16. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for April 9.

On March 5, the defense team filed a motion to exclude Richardson’s comments at the Carlisle Police Station outside the presence of officers.

After a 60-minute meeting in chambers with attorneys defense withdrew its motion to suppress those statements.

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