The family of a former cheerleader acquitted last week of killing her newborn will finally give the baby an "eternal resting place."
After sentencing Brooke Skylar Richardson Friday to three years of probation for the abuse of a corpse—the only charge the former cheerleader was convicted of—Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II ordered the remains of the baby be returned to the Richardson family for a proper burial, according to The Journal-News.
Richardson had admitted to secretly giving birth to the child in May 2017 when she was 18, just days after she had gone to her prom, and then burying the child in a shallow grave in her family's backyard.
Although prosecutors had argued that Richardson killed the newborn after giving birth, Richardson’s defense attorneys maintained that the baby had been stillborn. A jury concluded last week that there was not enough evidence to suggest Richardson had intentionally or unintentionally killed the child and found the now 20-year-old not guilty of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers told the judge that the family now plans to give the baby, who is named Annabelle, a proper burial.
“The Richardson family would like to bring closure for Annabelle and give her an eternal resting place,” he said, adding that the family had already secured a burial plot for the baby’s remains.
Oda ordered that the burial site must also be accessible to the family of the baby’s father, Trey Johnson.
Before Richardson’s sentence was handed down on Friday, Johnson’s mother, Tracy Johnson addressed the court to express how devastating the events of her granddaughter’s death had been for her family.
“Two years, four months, one week just in case you were wondering that’s how old my granddaughter would be if she were here today,” she said in the emotional statement during the sentencing aired. “As hard as I’ve tried to find the right words to describe—broken, shattered, destroyed—none of it seemed to fit the amount of pain I have felt ever since we found out that not only did I lose my first grandchild, but my baby that I would lay down my life for without a thought, lost his first child.”
Tracy Johnson said her son did not learn he was the father of the baby until January 2018—months after the newborn had died.
Authorities discovered the newborn’s remains buried in the shallow grave after Richardson’s doctors called authorities after learning that the 18-year-old had given birth.
During the trial, Dr. William Andrew, an obstetrician and gynecologist, testified that he administered a positive pregnancy test to Richardson in April 2017 after she had come into the office to get birth control.
He estimated at the time that she was 32 weeks pregnant, however, Richardson never showed up to any follow-up appointments or ultrasounds. When she returned to the office in July 2017 to get birth control, she was seen by another doctor who confronted her when she realized Richardson wasn’t pregnant.
Richardson told the doctors at the time that she had given birth to a stillborn baby and buried the remains in the backyard of her home.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.