An Ohio woman is in her second week of trial for allegedly killing and burying her newborn daughter — and prosecutors and defense attorneys are sparring over whether the baby was alive or dead after birth.
Brooke Skylar Richardson is accused of killing and burying her newborn daughter in her backyard in July 2017. Prosecutors allege she did not want to be an 18-year-old single mom. Richardson’s attorneys argued that the baby was stillborn and didn’t meet the legal criteria to be considered a child.
But on Monday morning, jurors heard Richardson’s own words during a police interview she gave in 2017.
In a video played in court, Richardson told police that her baby had fallen into the toilet when she was born. She also said that she might have held the baby too tight after her birth. Then Richardson said she might have heard crying from the baby, who she named Annabelle. She said Annabelle may have been alive for five minutes.
It was a departure from her previous statement in which she said that the baby had never drawn a breath after delivery.
Richardson, now 20, is facing trial for aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangerment. She has pleaded not guilty.
By the time the baby’s skeletal remains were found, her cause of death was inconclusive. Additionally, authorities are unsure whether Annabelle’s body had been burned. Her attorneys claim that she falsely admitted to burning the body after police had broken her down during questioning.
Prosecutors allege that Richardson did not want to be an 18-year-old single mom with college only a few months away. In the months after learning of her pregnancy, Richardson didn’t return for an ultrasound, bloodwork or any other treatment, while ignoring calls from the doctor and assistants, prosecutors have said.
In the police interview played in court last Thursday, Richardson allegedly told police that she didn’t return her doctor’s phone calls because she was scared. “I didn’t really want to have my baby,” she told police. “I really don’t know what I planned to do.”
She also told police that she looked into an abortion, but it was too late to have one. She denied that she performed an abortion on herself.
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During repeated questioning, Richardson spoke softly. She appeared to cry when one of the detectives said to her, “Think how proud Annabelle would be to have you as a mom.”
Prosecutors allege that she intentionally killed her baby. They also allege that she searched “how do I get rid of a baby” upon finding out she was pregnant.
Richardson’s attorneys have repeatedly admitted she buried the child’s remains in her parents’ backyard — but they say she only did so after the baby was stillborn and she didn’t know what to do with the remains.
Prosecutor David Fornshell said that they will show police interviews to the jury that “fully support the charges against Richardson.”
Testimony in the case is expected to last into next week.