Prosecutor calls defense arguments ‘misleading at best’ in Carlisle buried baby case

Warren County prosecutors say the defense team for Brooke Skylar Richardson, Carlisle teen accused of killing her baby and burying her in the backyard, are mischaracterizing the opinions of potential expert witnesses.

Arguments previously stricken by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II from the defense motion to move Richardson’s case out of the county were made public Tuesday with defense attorneys Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers taking aim at the issue of statements about baby “Annabelle” being burned before buried.

The defense team says a “premature and completely false opinion by the state’s expert forensic anthropologist that Brooke Skylar Richardson’s baby Annabelle was burned before burial ignited a media and social media firestorm.”

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The defense team says the damage is done and a fair trial for the Carlisle teen in Warren County is not possible.

“What started as an 18-year-old high school girl who was frightened and saddened because of giving birth to a stillborn baby whom she named Annabelle and then telling her doctor of the stillbirth and burial in the backyard turned into something sinister and grotesque because of the inaccurate and false opinion by the state’s forensic anthropologist. Although this false opinion was subsequently retracted, the damage remains” the defense team states in the motion.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell and Assistant Prosecutor David Knippen were brief in their response filed late Tuesday afternoon.

“The defendant mischaracterizes the opinions of potential expert witnesses and omits other facts and evidence pertinent to the issues in this case,” the prosecution said in the response. “While the state believes that the arguments put forth in the defendant’s memorandum are misleading at best, the state is cautious of responding in kind so as not to further flame the media coverage regarding this case, as it is the state’s intention to select a fair and impartial jury.”

The prosecution requested a hearing if the judge is going to reconsider his previous decision denying the motion of change of venue “based on the misstatments contained in her memorandum.”

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Oda denied the motion for change of venue, ruling voir dire of the potential jurors will have to take place to determine if pre-trial publicity has had any impact on the jury pool.

“Only after the voir dire process will the court and the parties be able to determine the impact, if any, of pretrial publicity. This issue will be revisited in the event a jury cannot be seated,” Oda wrote.

Oda previously issued a gag order stopping public comments by attorneys and parties involved in the case, but that ruling was overturned last week by the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Richardson remains free on a $50,000 bond and under court-ordered house arrest that was a condition of her release. Her trial is scheduled to begin in April.

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