Murder trial set for Ohio cheerleader charged with bashing

Murder trial is set for Ohio cheerleader charged with bashing in her newborn daughter’s skull and burying her in the yard just days after prom, as defense loses bid to hide evidence suggesting she set the baby on fire

  • Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, will head to court on September 3 in Warren County, Ohio, as jury selection gets underway in her aggravated murder trial 
  • Judge Donald Oda II denied three motions filed by the defense that would have likely delayed the start of the trial, including one for a change of venue
  • Previous motions were also dismissed to keep a bottle of lighter fluid and Richardson’s diary from being presented as evidence 
  • The defense is hoping to keep evidence suggesting Richardson may have tried to burn the baby in the wake of her death from emerging at trial
  • Richardson delivered a healthy baby to term in July 2017 and then allegedly smashed her skull and buried her in the backyard say prosecutors
  • She is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse 

The Ohio cheerleader who is facing charges including aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter for allegedly killing her newborn daughter and then burying the body in her family’s backyard just days after her prom will face a jury next month.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, will head to court on September 3 in Warren County as jury selection gets underway in her trial, a little over two years after the death of baby Annabelle.

On Monday, Judge Donald Oda II denied three motions filed by the defense that would have likely delayed the start of the trial.

Those included requests for the jury to be allowed to view the alleged crime scene and to have the indictment dismissed.

The defense also argued that the trial should be moved out of Warren County claiming it would be impossible to assemble jury that was not prejudiced against their client in light of all the media coverage around the case. 

Motions filed last week by the defense seeking to ban Richardson’s diary and lighter fluid found in her family home from being presented as evidence were also dismissed by the judge. 

Richardson delivered a healthy baby to term in July 2017 and then allegedly smashed her skull and possibly even lit the infant on fire in an attempt to burn the corpse before burying her in the backyard, according to prosecutors.

Richardson claims the baby was stillborn. 

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High school high: Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, will head to court on September 3 in Warren County as jury selection gets underway in her trial (Richardson days before she gave birth on left and right in her cheerleader uniform)

Support team: The defense is hoping to keep evidence suggesting Richardson may have tried to burn the baby in the wake of her death from emerging at trial (Richardson and her parents arrive in court back in August 2017)

The defendant did receive her fair share of breaks prior to the judge dismissing these defense motions. 

Richardson was put on modified house arrest a little over a year ago, with the judge ruling she would have a curfew of 9pm through 7am and be supervised via GPS monitoring and random home visits.

Her modified release came after her defense team sought a ruling to bar prosecutors from presenting testimony from an obstetrics-gynecology practice’s medical staff, citing physician-patient privilege that she won’t give up.

Prosecutors argued that the privilege doesn’t apply in this case, but were ultimately shot down and forced to delay the start of the trial without that crucial evidence.

Authorities first learned of the baby from a doctor Richardson had visited just a few weeks before she gave birth.

The remains were found soon after, and prosecutors believe that Richardson buried the baby shortly after giving birth.

Richardson was full term when she gave birth to the girl, delivering the child in her bathroom within days after her senior prom.

County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Skylar, as she is known, and her family had been worried about community reaction to her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

‘Skylar and her family, particularly her mother, were pretty obsessed with external appearances and how things appeared to the outside world,’ he said early in the proceedings.

‘You have a situation where, you know, she’s a cute high school, recent high school graduate; she was a cheerleader described (as) a good girl by her attorney as you heard after the arraignment. And I think that kind of perception is one that Skylar wanted to perpetuate and her mother wanted to perpetuate.’

The defense continues to claim the child was delivered stillborn. 


Charges: Richardson delivered a healthy baby to term in July 2017 and then allegedly smashed her skull and buried her in the backyard (left in mugshot, right in court in April 2018)

Two Facebook pages have been dedicated to the case and critics of the family have shot and posted video and photos of the family and their home, often with sharp commentary.

Her defense attorneys have blasted prosecutors for ‘a false narrative’ that sensationalized the case.

They say she didn’t kill the baby, and that an expert witness concluded there was no sign of burning or of trauma that would have caused the baby’s death.

‘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 stillborn and burial in the backyard turned into something sinister and grotesque,’ they said in a motion to move the trial. 

 

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