An Ohio cheerleader accused of killing her newborn daughter after hiding her pregnancy was found not guilty Thursday of most of the charges against her.
WLWT News 5 reports the jury decided that Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, of Carlisle, Ohio, is guilty of abusing a corpse, but it acquitted her on charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Her sentencing is slated for Friday.
People reports Richardson, who pleaded not guilty, was visibly shaking while she waited for the jury to read the verdict. Afterward, she and her parents reportedly burst into tears.
In 2017, she allegedly hid her pregnancy from her parents and then gave birth to a baby girl in her bathroom at home. Prosecutors accused her of killing her child and then burying the body in her back yard. She was a high school senior and cheerleader with plans to attend college at the time.
Richardson contended that her baby girl was stillborn, and she buried the baby’s body because she was afraid to tell her parents that she was pregnant. She said she named her daughter Annabelle.
During the trial, medical experts testified that they could not physically prove that the baby was alive when born. According to the report, the baby’s remains had deteriorated significantly when investigators found her.
The Journal-News reports Richardson’s doctor, Dr. William Andrew, told the court that he informed her that she was pregnant, and the news upset her.
“She said, ‘I can’t have a baby. I am going to college,’” he told the jury.
Here’s more from the report:
Dr. Casey Boyce said she confronted Richardson in July 2017 when she came to her office for birth control because she knew a colleague at her office had told her she was pregnant several months before.
“She started crying. She said, ‘I had it alone in my house and I buried it in my backyard,’” the doctor testified.
Authorities said they launched the investigation after receiving a tip from a local doctor’s office.
According to People, Richardson told police that she did look into having an abortion, but she was too far along in her pregnancy. She also told them that she did not perform an abortion on herself.
During first interview with police, Richardson also said she did not kill her baby
Richardson said she gave birth on May 7, 2017, in the middle of the night at home in her bathroom. She said the baby fell out while she was on the toilet and was not breathing, Tweed Daily News reports. She also said her daughter was not making any noise and did not have a heartbeat.
Attorney Charles M. Rittgers said Richardson is a good student who does not drink or smoke or go to wild parties. He said she helped children with disabilities when she went to cheerleading camp, and worked with children at the YMCA, according to the report.
However, prosecutors accused her of wanting to get rid of her baby because the baby would have gotten in the way of her “perfect life.”