The parents of a former cheerleader acquitted earlier this month in the death of her newborn baby are speaking out in defense of their daughter in a new interview.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, was found not guilty earlier this month of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment charges after she secretly gave birth to a daughter just days after her high school prom and then buried the child’s remains in the family’s backyard.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, who goes by Skylar, and her attorneys have said that the baby was stillborn and she did not kill her.
“There is no way she would ever hurt anyone,” her father, Scott Richardson, told Erin Moriarty in an upcoming episode of “48 Hours” according to a CBS News release.
Her mom, Kim Richardson, said she never knew her daughter, who struggles with an eating disorder, was pregnant, even pointing to a high school track photo of her daughter just a month before she gave birth.
“She had a stillborn and she made a poor choice after that,” Kim said of her daughter’s decision to secretly bury the child in the backyard in a clip of the show.
The baby’s remains were discovered after the now 20-year-old told her doctors she had given birth to a stillborn baby, and the doctors alerted authorities.
Kim called the two years after her daughter’s arrest “the worst nightmare” and described it as “purgatory every day.”
She claims the family was “followed, stalked, harassed” after news of the arrest spread — with some people even bringing lawn chairs to camp outside the family’s home.
“Facebook, to me, turned into Hatebook,” she said.
She also described the shock she felt after learning that her daughter had not only been pregnant but had secretly given birth without her knowledge.
“I couldn’t feel my body. I could not get up,” she said. “How could that happen? I’ve seen her every day. I look at her. I talk to her. I hug her.”
In her initial talks with investigators, Skylar told authorities her baby had been stillborn but as the interviews intensified, she later said she may have squeezed her daughter too tight, accidentally killing her, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Her father now says that letting her speak to investigators without an attorney present was the “biggest mistake I’ve made in my entire life.”
Her parents also told Moriarty that prosecutors had approached their daughter with a potential deal in July that would have taken the aggravated murder charge off the table, according to CBS News.
“The prosecutor told (her attorney), I will take aggravated murder off if you plea to the rest of them, which still could have been 15 years,” her father said in the episode set to air Saturday at 10/9c on CBS.
Her parents admit Skylar was tempted by the deal, but ultimately decided to take a gamble.
“It was Sunday morning and she woke up — and I can still see her sitting on the couch,” Kim said. “And she goes, I’m not going to plea to something I didn’t do. And in my heart, I got sick — but it has to be her decision. End of day, she has to live with this.”
The gamble would ultimately pay off for Skylar, who was convicted only for the abuse of a corpse charge against her.
Skylar will have to serve no additional jail time and has been sentenced to three years of community service.
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