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Woman who buried baby she had as a high school cheerleader cleared of murder and manslaughter charges

Prosecutors say she killed her baby. Her lawyers said the baby was stillborn and she panicked.

Image source: CNN video screenshot

A 20-year-old woman who was accused of killing the baby she had as a teenager has been cleared of murder and manslaughter charges in Warren County, Ohio.

What happened?

When she was 18 years old, Brooke Skylar Richardson buried her newborn child, whom she had named Annabelle, in May 2017. In a statement, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshel said that there was "evidence that the infant whose remains were discovered at the defendant's residence in Carlisle ... was born alive and was not a stillborn baby."

However, Richardson's lawyers insisted that the baby was stillborn and that Richardson buried the baby because she could not think of how else to handle the situation. She had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.

She was cleared Thursday of all the charges except for gross abuse of a corpse. On Friday, a Warren County judge ordered her to three years probation on the lesser charge of corpse abuse.

According to a news release from the Warren County Sheriff's Office, Richardson was arrested on July 20, 2017.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Richardson's lawyer, Charles M. Rittgers described his client as "by all measures a very good girl who helped children," adding that she was "by all means a very good person."

What's the background?

Richardson had kept the pregnancy a secret because the baby's father was not her boyfriend. Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steve Knippen also noticed that the same day that Richardson had buried her baby, she texted someone that her "belly is back."

She initially confessed to murder, but her lawyers argued that this confession had been coerced. They said that she was a chronic people pleaser and only told the police what she believed that they wanted her to say. Richardson had also confessed to trying to burn Annabelle's body, something a pathologist had initially suggested and then recanted. Rittgers told the jury that this was "impossible."

Richardson's family has reportedly bought a cemetery plot for Annabelle, although the baby's remains have not yet been released to them. Police had told her in 2017 that they would return Annabelle's body to her if she told the truth.

One last thing…
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