An Ohio woman accused of killing and burying her newborn daughter allegedly told her father she tried to cremate the baby.
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.
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.
In court on Friday morning, prosecutors played a recording of a police interview with Richardson in 2017. At the end of the interview, she spoke to her father — and the conversation was recorded. A transcript was read for the jury.
“Honey, tell us what happened,” her father said, according to the transcript.
“I tried to cremate the baby,” Richardson allegedly said.
It’s important testimony, because prosecutors and defense attorneys dispute whether the baby’s body had been burned. In a police report presented in court, a homicide detective wrote that Richardson allegedly used a lighter to set her baby’s foot on fire. The flames got to the baby’s chest before Richardson put them out.
By the time the baby’s skeletal remains were found, it was inconclusive whether her 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 on 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.
When her parents walked into the room after the police interview, Richardson addressed her mother. “Mommy,” she said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m so sorry, mommy.”
Her parents hugged her. “You should have just told us,” her father said. “Kids get pregnant every day,” her mother added. “Pregnancy is not the end of the world.”
“Mom, do you have any idea how I feel?” Richardson asked. Her mother replied, “Do you have any idea how we feel?”
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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 resumes on Monday.