Defense attorneys representing a former cheerleader from Ohio accused of killing her newborn baby and burying her body in her parents’ yard want jurors to visit the home where the child was delivered and laid to rest.
Brooke Richardson, now aged 20, pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse after her baby daughter’s remains were discovered in Carlisle, Ohio, in 2017.
Richardson’s attorney has said the child was stillborn. She is scheduled to go on trial on September 3.
Attorneys for Brooke Richardson, 20 (pictured in court last year) have filed a motion seeking to have jurors visit her family’s home in Carlisle, Ohio, during her upcoming murder trial
Lawyers wants jurors to see the bathroom inside this home where Richardson gave birth and walk the path she took to the baby’s burial site in the yard
Last week, Richardson’s defense team filed a motion asking that jurors be allowed to view their client’s family home, including the bathroom where she gave birth to her daughter and the path she took from her bathroom to the garage and on to the burial site in the backyard, reported Hamilton Journal-News.
The lawyers argued that the visit, which they said will add only three hours to the trial, ‘will assist the jurors in conceptualizing and putting the evidence in context where a picture cannot.’
Presiding Judge Donald Oda II denied the defense’s first request to have the jury visit the Richardson home back in 2017, expressing concern that the experience will sway their judgment during the trial
‘It is nearly impossible to insulate the jury from extraneous matters and there is substantial risk that the jury will form opinions based on the nature, appearance and/or “feel” of the home that will bleed into their subsequent deliberations,’ he said at the time.
The defense followed up on Tuesday with two additional motions requesting that evidence regarding a can of Kingsford lighter fluid taken from Richardson’s home and her diary detailing her struggles with eating disorders be excluded at trial.
Richardson (pictured left in her cheerleader uniform) is accused of killing her baby daughter after delivering her at home in 2017. Her prom photo, taken two days before she gave birth shows a visible bump but her parents claim they were never aware their daughter was pregnant
The lawyers argued that both items were irrelevant to her prosecution.
Earlier this month, Richardson’s lawyers argued that the indictment against her, which they labeled ‘defective,’ should be dismissed because a forensic anthropologist recanted testimony that her baby was burned.
According to the defense attorneys, the testimony claiming that the baby’s skeletal remains appeared charred was among evidence on which the indictment was based.
Richardson has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse
The forensic expert, Dr. Elizabeth Murray, said that when she saw the newborn’s bones a second time, they looked different than they had the previous month.
‘While the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office unintentionally presented false information to the grand jury in this case, the indictment and prosecution are defective all the same and should be dismissed in accordance with Miss Richardson’s rights to a fair trial and due process,’ the defense wrote in the motion.
Richardson was just 18 years old when she tearfully admitted to a doctor that her baby had been stillborn and she had buried it at her parents’ home in the village of Carlisle, which is north of Cincinnati.
It was just a month before she was due to start college and days after her senior prom in May 2017.
She has maintained the baby was delivered stillborn. Skylar’s prom photo, taken two days before she gave birth shows a visible bump but her parents claim they were never aware their daughter was pregnant.
Defense attorneys have blasted prosecutors for ‘a false narrative’ that sensationalized the case.
Richardson’s lawyers have filed a motion seeking to have the indictment against her dismissed, calling it ‘defective’
They said the teen didn’t kill her baby, and that an expert witness concluded there was no sign of burning or of trauma that would have caused the baby’s death.
Authorities first learned of the baby from a doctor that Richardson had first visited a few weeks before she gave birth.
When she visited him again, Richardson said that the baby had been stillborn and she had buried it. The coroner’s office contacted police.
After police arrived at her home, Richardson told them that she had given birth to a baby girl – who she named Annabelle – around 3am on May 7, 2017.
She said her daughter never opened her eyes and Richardson cradled her for hours, hoping she would show any sign of life.
When none came, the teen buried her in a spot in the yard that she would be able to see from her bedroom window, digging the hole with a small garden spade.
She then took pink rose petals, which she had worn at prom and sprinkled them over her daughter’s grave.