A former cheerleader accused of killing her newborn daughter, burning the body and then burying it in her backyard wants three separate trials to break up the charges against her.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, is facing charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in the death of her daughter Annabelle.
Authorities say Richardson gave birth to the newborn in the middle of the night just days after her senior prom, then killed the child, burned her body in her family’s fire pit and then burying buried the remains in the backyard of her home, according to local station WXIX-TV.
Richardson’s attorneys have filed a motion to conduct three separate trials for the charges against her, asking for the first trial to cover the aggravated murder charge, the second trial to focus on the involuntary manslaughter and endangering children charges and the third trial to be held for the charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
They believe if Richardson was tried on all five charges at the same time it could be prejudicial.
In the motion, her defense team argues that there is “always a danger when several crimes are tried together, the jury may use the evidence cumulatively,” according to The Hamilton Journal News. Her attorneys also contend that evidence on any one of the charges “might not have persuaded (the jurors) of accused’s guilt” on its own, however the “sum of it will convince them as to all.”
The defense team wrote that the state has combined the separate offenses “on multiple occasions” and believes they should be viewed independently, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell has said the state plans to oppose the motion.
Richardson, who was just 18 at the time, reportedly hid her pregnancy from her parents and later told her doctor that she had given birth to a stillborn baby on May 7, 2017.
Her family has said in an earlier interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer that their daughter, who goes by Skylar, gave birth to the child in the bathroom in the middle of the night. Kim Richardson, Skylar’s mother, claims her daughter told her the baby never opened its eyes and after cradling her for hours she decided to bury the child in the backyard in a spot where she’d be able to see it from her bedroom window.
However, the prosecution believes Richardson “purposely” caused her baby’s death. Fornshell described the family as “obsessed” with external appearances.
Her trial is slated to begin on Sept. 3.
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