Brooke Skylar Richardson will go home today after being acquitted on accusations she murdered her newborn — but will serve three years of probation for burying the body.
The Ohio woman, now 20, was found not guilty on Thursday of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. She was found guilty of only one charge: gross abuse of a corpse. The jury deliberated for four hours and 25 minutes.
In court on Friday, the judge ordered that Richardson serve three years of probation. She 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.
Before the sentencing, Richardson’s father, Scott Richardson, addressed the court and asked for his daughter to be released. “My daughter is suffering from an eating disorder and we are concerned about her health,” he said.
Richardson’s then-boyfriend, Trey Johnson, was the baby’s father. Johnson’s mother read an emotional statement during court. “Not only did I lose my first grandchild, but my baby boy lost his daughter,” said Johnson. “For a baby that she called ‘it,’ we’re just as much the family as she is.”
“I’ve watched my son become a different person,” Johnson continued. “I won’t disclose his medical diagnosis because she’s done enough to him. I can personally tell you that I’ve personally been seen for depression, panic attacks, and I’m a shell of the person I was.”
“I would have taken her in with Trey without a question. Now, instead, every May 7, I don’t get to have a birthday party for my first grandchild. Instead, I send her balloons to heaven, to tell her how much her daddy loved her, and how much I loved her.”
Richardson then addressed the court.
“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.”
Judge Donald Oda II reprimanded Richardson while making his decision and referenced the baby, who had been named Annabelle.
“I believe if you had made different decisions, Annabelle would still be here,” Oda said. “I think that your choices before birth, during birth and after birth show a grotesque disregard for life.”
Richardson, a senior in high school who was a varsity cheerleader, was 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 had pleaded not guilty.
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In the weeks after learning of her pregnancy, Richardson didn’t return for an ultrasound, bloodwork, or any other treatment, while also ignoring calls from the doctor and assistants.
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.
Her defense attorneys have maintained that she did not kill the child, but panicked after the baby was stillborn and disposed of the body.