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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cheerleader accused of murdering her newborn baby and burying her in garden days after school prom

A young woman accused of murdering her newborn baby before burying her in her family’s garden has been told she will face trial for murder.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, allegedly smashed her baby’s skull and attempted to set fire to the infant’s body so as to burn the baby's corpse before burying her.

But she denies the accusations against her and says her baby, who she named Annabelle, was stillborn in her bathroom in July 2017, just days after her senior prom.

Police were first alerted to the baby after they were contacted by a doctor Skylar had visited a few weeks before she gave birth. The baby’s remains were found soon after and prosecutors claim Skylar, who was 18 at the time, buried the baby shortly after delivering the child.

Richardson, a high school cheerleader from Ohio, US, has been charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

She will go on trial on 3 September.

Her lawyers had applied to delay the trial and have it moved from her home county Warren County, claiming it would be impossible to assemble a jury that was not prejudiced against Richardson in light of all the media coverage around the case.

However, on Monday, August 19, Judge Donald Oda II denied three motions put forward by the lawyers, including requests for the jury to be allowed to view the alleged crime scene and to have the indictment dismissed. Motions filed last week by the defence 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.

County Prosecutor David Fornshell claims Skylar killed her baby because she and her family had been worried about community reaction to her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

He said: "Skylar and her family, particularly her mother, were pretty obsessed with external appearances and how things appeared to the outside world.

"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."

Richardson’s lawyers have accused prosecutors of creating "a false narrative" to sensationalise the case. They say the baby was delivered stillborn and that an expert witness concluded there was no sign of burning or of trauma that would have caused the baby’s death.

In a motion to move the trial, Richardson’s lawyers said: "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."

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