Brooke Skylar Richardson had remained silent throughout her murder trial.
The 20-year-old Ohio woman rarely showed any emotion as she was tried on allegations she murdered and buried her newborn baby. She had wiped away tears when her daughter’s remains were shown to the jury, and she had smiled briefly while her brother testified about their close bond.
Other than that, she sat stoically in court for the 10-day trial.
But everything changed on Thursday, when she was found not guilty of of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. She was found guilty of only one charge: gross abuse of a corpse. As the verdict was read, Richardson wept.
During sentencing on Friday, she spoke out for the first time in two years — and apologized for her actions.
“I would do anything that you ask,” she told the judge. “I can sometimes be selfish, but I’m getting better. I’m forever sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve hurt a lot of people. I am really, really sorry. And I understand.”
Richardson had been a senior in high school when she was accused of killing and burying her newborn daughter in her backyard in July 2017. Prosecutors alleged that the varsity cheerleader didn’t 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 had pleaded not guilty.
In the end, the jury found her not guilty of the most serious charges, a decision that her attorneys later told reporters was “appropriate.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
During her sentencing hearing, Richardson listened intently. She nodded as Judge Donald Oda II discussed the logistics of the penalty phase.
When Oda reprimanded Richardson for her actions, she looked down at her hands.
“I believe if you had made different decisions, [the baby] would still be here,” Oda said. “I think that your choices before birth, during birth and after birth show a grotesque disregard for life.”
In the end, Judge Oda ordered that Richardson serve three years of probation. She was was sentenced to seven days in jail, with credit for the seven days she already served. If she violates her probation, she can spend up to a year in jail.