An Ohio teen accused of killing her newborn baby remained out on bail Friday after posting a mere $50,000. Brooke “Skylar” Richardson, 18, was charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse after authorities found the remains of her baby buried in her backyard in July.
Investigators said testing revealed Thursday that the newborn was a girl and would henceforth be called “Baby Jane Doe” during the trial. The judge in the case also issued a gag order Thursday, ordering both the prosecution and defense to cease talking to the media immediately.
Richardson, a graduate of Carlisle High School, pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday. The teenager was a cheerleader and member of the track team in high school, as well as a member of the National Honor Society. Richardson was set to attend the University of Cincinnati come fall, her lawyer Charles Rittgers said.
Authorities were tipped off by an unidentified doctor July 14 who told them a baby was born to a teen in the town. They later discovered the remains of a baby in Richardson's backyard. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Richardson had her baby just a few days after her senior prom, around May 6 or 7. He said she then caused the newborn’s death, burned her and buried her in the backyard.
“We may never know the medical cause of the baby’s death,” Fornshell said during a press conference.
It remained unclear at this point who the baby’s father was, though Fornshell said they would be able to determine it through DNA testing and that authorities had “some idea” of who it was. The prosecutor said a preoccupation with “appearances and how things appear to the outside world” may have led Richardson to kill her infant daughter.
“You have a situation where she’s a cute recent high school graduate,” Fornshell said. “She was a cheerleader. She was described as a good girl by her attorney, as you heard after the arraignment, and I think that kind of perception is one that Skylar wanted to perpetuate.”
Her defense attorney, however, adamantly denied the teen had anything to do with her daughter’s death, repeatedly calling her a “good girl” and citing her volunteer efforts and lack of prior criminal record.
“I can tell you Brooke Skylar Richardson did not kill her baby,” Rittgers said Monday.
Richardson remained out on bail and under house arrest pending a trial. As per Thursday’s gag order, everyone involved in the case would cease speaking to the press.
“Judge Don Oda issued a gag order precluding all parties to the State v. Brooke Skylar Richardson case from making any further statements about the case,” Fornshell said on Facebook Thursday. “The only exception to this order relates to addressing scheduling and other procedural matters pertaining to this case. Accordingly, our office will not be responding to any further media inquiries relating to this matter beyond the issue of scheduling and procedural matters. Nor will there be any additional updates concerning factual aspects of the case.”