Photographer charged with assault after Skylar Richardson case expected to plead no contest

A freelance CBS News videographer accused of assaulting three Carlisle men at a football game in September while trying to take video of Brooke Skylar Richardson and her family is expected to plead no contest in Franklin Municipal Court.

City Prosecutor Steve Runge and an attorney representing videographer David Sapp, 52, of Centerville, Utah, met last Friday in a pretrial conference. He said Sapp is expected to enter written no contest pleas at his next court appearance slated for Feb. 14 on the three charges assault charges, all first-degree misdemeanors.

Runge said if Judge Ronald Ruppert accepts the no contest pleas and finds him guilty, Sapp may be placed on diversion, which is normally six months. If Sapp completes diversion, the charges will be dismissed and he can later seek to have the case sealed and his record expunged. In Ohio, the maximum penalty for this charge is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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Runge said Sapp also will be seeking the judge’s approval to enter his written pleas in absentia. As of Tuesday, no request had been submitted to the court, according to Runge.

Richardson was found not guilty on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering but was convicted of abuse of a corpse on Sept. 12, the day before the game. She was accused of having a baby in secret, murdering her and burying her in the backyard in May 2017. She was sentenced to seven days in jail — but credited for time served — and three years community control earlier on the day of the game.

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According to Carlisle police, officers working security were told at the end of the game that there was a fight happening behind the home stands, according to a police report. They found multiple men wrestling with another man on the ground at Laughlin Field.

The three men who were involved in the fight, including the head of the school’s football boosters program, told police that Sapp “was attempting to record the Richardson family and was under the bleachers.” They said they told Sapp he needed to leave and Sapp struck them with his camera, according to police.

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Sapp was part of a six-person CBS News team that went to the football game Sept. 13 to gather video for a news report about Richardson’s high-profile murder trial. In October, Sapp’s attorney filed a motion claiming the state’s assault statute was being used to violate his news gathering rights that are protected by the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.

Sapp’s attorney claimed a woman complained to football support staff about Sapp shooting video, and three men confronted him. Sapp allegedly kicked or kneed two of the men in the groin and struck one in the head with his camera. Sapp’s attorney also claimed the men were “government actors” motivated by “media animus” because one of the men was a Carlisle schools custodial worker and was the high school boosters president.

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Ruppert ruled in November that Sapp’s First Amendment rights were not violated, so he declined to dismiss the charges. He also ruled that Sapp’s requested material was not connected to the charges in this case.

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