The prosecution rested Monday in the Brooke Skylar Richardson trial after playing a second interrogation tape in which the Carlisle woman changed her statements about the death of her baby girl in May 2017.
The defense started the day Tuesday by calling Richardson’s father, Scott, to testify.
Scott Richardson talked about his daughter’s issues with weight, and the defense team showed multiple photos of Richardson at different times before and after her pregnancy.
He was also asked about his reaction to finding out that Richardson was pregnant, had a baby and buried her in the backyard.
"She would never hurt a living person," Scott Richardson said.
He said he regrets that the family didn’t have an attorney with Richardson during a second interrogation by police, which is the interview that led to her arrest. He also said the family would have supported Richardson and the baby if she had told them about the pregnancy and birth.
The second defense witness was Dr. John E. White, of Mount Auburn OB-GYN, and the defense asked him questions about his medical review of Richardson’s case. He was asked if he had an opinion about whether Richardson gave birth to a stillborn baby.
He said his opinion is that “indeed, early in the morning on May 7, (2017), at home in her bathroom alone, she delivered a stillbirth infant” at about 3 a.m.
White said he based his opinion in Richardson’s statements to police, including her statement that the umbilical cord was not attached when the baby was born.
After a break for lunch, the prosecution moved to cross-examine White. Assistant Prosecutor Julie Kraft pointed out that he did not examine Richardson and is basing his opinion on information received from others, and the main issue centers on how the baby’s “fundal height” and other measurements were made to determine how far along the baby was.
Kraft continued questioning White about how he formed his opinion. That included Kraft pointing to statements Richardson made to police that would go against White’s findings.
As the third witness of the day, the defense called Alan Hirsch, a professor at Williams College who has studied interrogations and false confessions.
From Monday’s activity, prosecutors say Richardson finally told the truth during her second interrogation with police, but the defense says detectives coerced a false confession out of a scared 18-year-old Carlisle High School graduate using information a forensic anthropologist later recanted.
Richardson, now 20, was not arrested after the first interview with Warren County sheriff’s detectives on July 14, 2017 after her baby’s remains were unearthed. During that interview she told detectives her baby that she named Annabelle was stillborn.
“I have given you all the truth," Richardson says to the detectives in the second interview. "I told you about squeezing her, and I think I might have killed her."
Richardson said during a second interrogation on July 20, 2017, that she may have seen the baby’s arms move and heard her gurgle. She continued to deny that she set the baby on fire.
But later, she said she did have a lighter and the baby’s remains may have caught fire “a little.”
Defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers said the team plans to call two days’ worth of witnesses.
Richardson is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and abuse of corpse. A tampering with evidence charge was dismissed by judge Donald Oda II on Monday after he decided the prosecution didn’t present enough evidence to warrant the charge being considered.