When the jury in Brooke Skylar Richardson’s murder trial asked a question about the last of four charges being considered after only a few hours of deliberation on Thursday, the defense team was hopeful.
“We thought if it were going to be an early verdict, it would be favorable for us,” said Charles H. Rittgers, one of Richardson’s defense attorneys.
That turned out to be true. Richardson, who was accused of killing and burying her baby in her backyard in May 2017, was found not guilty on the three most serious charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangering in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
She was found guilty of abuse of a corpse. Richardson was taken into custody before sentencing at 11 a.m. Friday.
The attorneys said it is Judge Donald Oda II’s typical protocol to put a person in jail the night before sentencing, even if that person is out on bond, as Richardson has been.
Richardson’s attorneys, Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers, held a news conference in a hallway after the verdict.
“This is ... well, as her attorney, and knowing other cases throughout the country, this was well over-charged from the get go,” Charles H. Rittgers said.
They were asked if Richardson was satisfied with the verdicts.
“What do you think? C’mon. Seriously,” Charles H. Rittgers said. “She’s facing life in prison, and she’s now looking at maybe a six-month sentence, maximum. C’mon.”
He was also critical of some media coverage of the case.
“I’d love to sue a few of the national media outlets that said that she bashed her baby’s skull in and all that other stuff,” Charles H. Rittgers said. “I think it was that Nancy Grace show or whatever. It was a week before trial. That was crazy.”
The attorneys were asked what will happen with Richardson moving forward.
“She has worked in our office since this came up, and hopefully she’ll be able to go to college,” Charles H. Rittgers said.
She started classes and completed one semester at Sinclair Community College, Charles H. Rittgers said.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell held a news conference after the Rittgers and said the inability to prove how the baby died likely was the key point for the jury.
“I think unfortunately that probably played a major factor in the outcome we saw today,” Fornshell said.
Fornshell was asked about statements he made two years ago that prosecutors had evidence the baby’s bones were charred. That opinion was made by a forensic expert hired by the coroner’s office, but that expert later recanted her opinion and said the bones were not charred.
“I reject the idea that somehow we did anything improper,” Fornshell said.
Asked for his reaction to the not guilty parts of the verdict, Fornshell said his office was committed to try a difficult case because they believed Richardson was guilty.
“I do believe she killed her child,” Fornshell said. “I understand there are proof issues.”
He said later, “That baby deserved for us to go in there and fight.”
Carlisle residents also reacted to the verdict.
“I agree with the verdicts,” said Matt Dupps, a Carlisle resident. “I don’t think the state proved its case that the baby was alive or stillborn. I didn’t think there was enough evidence.”
Another resident, Missy Mays, said she believed Richardson was guilty of the more serious charges.
“I think she got by pretty good,” Mays said. “Kids are educated better today than in years before. There are all kinds of resources and it’s a lame excuse to say there were no other alternatives. There are people out there who can’t have kids that want to have kids. She basically discarded hers like a piece of trash.”
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