Former Cheerleader Brooke Skylar Richardson Found Not Guilty of Killing Newborn

Richardson, now 20, burst into tears as she was acquitted of the most serious charges against her

A jury has reached a verdict in the murder trial of Brooke Skylar Richardson, the Ohio woman accused of killing and burying her newborn daughter.

After deliberating for four hours and 25 minutes, the jurors found her not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

She was found guilty of only one charge: gross abuse of a corpse.

On Tuesday, a judge threw out a charge of tampering with evidence, saying that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof on that charge.

While awaiting the verdict, Richardson, now 20, was visibly shaking. She was breathing heavily and seemingly on the verge of tears. When the verdict was announced, she burst into tears while her parents cried in the front row. “We love you so much,” her mother said to her. “We love you, baby.”

Brooke Skylar Richardson
Brooke Skylar Richardson cries as she is found not guilty of killing her baby. WLWT5

Brooke Richardson 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.

Brooke Skylar Richardson
Greg Lynch/The Journal-News via AP

Prosecutors allege that Richardson did not want to be a single teen mom with college only a few months away. 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, prosecutors have said.

In a police interview played in court last 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.

Brooke Skylar Richardson
Nick Graham/The Journal-News via AP

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Prosecutors allege that she intentionally killed her baby, despite the fact that the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause of death. 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.

Richardson faces up to a year in jail for the charge of abuse of corpse. She will be sentenced on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m.

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