It has been more than two years since Brooke Skylar Richardson, then an 18-year-old Carlisle High School student, gave birth to a baby girl and then allegedly buried her body in the backyard. But the status of Richardson’s September murder trial may still be in question.
After years of motions, hearings and appeals, Richardson, now 20, is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 3 in Warren County Common Pleas Court for aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Prosecutors say Richardson’s baby was born alive, two days after prom, on May 6 or 7, 2017, then died due to Richardson’s actions. She then buried the infant a fire pit in her parents’ back yard, according to prosecutors.
Police became involved and discovered the baby’s remains in July 2017 after being contacted by Richardson’s OB-GYN’s office about a possible stillborn baby, according to prosecutors. But evidence points to the baby being born alive at about 38 weeks, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.
Richardson’s defense attorneys, Charlse H. and Charles M. Rittgers, say the baby that Richardson named Annabelle was stillborn.
After posting a $50,000 bond set in August 2017, just days after an indictment was returned, Richardson has remained free on bond.
Trial dates came and went for various reasons, but in April 2018, just day before trial, the defense filed an appeal of Judge Donald Oda II’s decision on medical records to the 12th District Court of Appeals. The defense later appealed the 12th district’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In April 2019, the state’s highest court declined to hear the case — specifically on the issue of medical records. A trial date of Sept. 3 was set.
But last week the defense field a motion asking Oda to sever charges and requesting separate trials.
The defense team is requesting that the court order one trial for the aggravated murder charge, one trial for involuntary manslaughter and endangering children charges and a third trial for tampering with evidence and abuse of corpse.
The defense argued the prosecution has admitted it does not intend to keep its presentation of each offense “simple and direct.”
“Testimony regarding, but not limited to a lack of prenatal care, Ms. Richardson’s initial reaction to Dr. Andrew when she learned she was pregnant and Ms. Richardson’s decision to not tell anyone she was pregnant were all cited by the State on numerous occasions to this court and the Twelfth District Court of Appeals as evidence that it would use to try to meet its burden of proving aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and abuse of a corpse.”
A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19. It is not clear if the severance motion will be part of that hearing. Fornshell said a response in opposition will be filed soon.
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