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Murder trial looms for cheerleader accused of killing newborn girl, burying her in yard after prom

An Ohio woman accused of killing her newborn daughter and burying her remains in her parents’ backyard in 2017 is weeks away from standing trial after a judge threw out three crucial motions on Monday.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and child endangerment for her baby’s death. On Monday, Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II denied the defense’s motions for the jury to view the alleged crime scene, for the indictment to be dismissed, and for a change in venue, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Richardson was 18 and full-term when she gave birth to a girl named Annabelle in May 2017. Her relatives told Cinncinatti Magazine that police accused the teen of burning and dismembering the newborn’s body before burying in the back of her parents’ Carlisle home.

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The defense claimed that Richardson had a stillborn who didn’t meet the criteria to be deemed a child. They also accused forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray of stepping back on claims that the newborn’s remains were burned before burial.

Defense attorneys said her initial determination was presented as evidence to a grand jury who ultimately indicted Richardson.

In their motion, defense attorney presented emails between Murray and Susan Allen, a forensic pathologist with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, where she reportedly stated that prosecutors were upset with her for not being “definitive about the burning,” noting that the bones looked “so different” from the time she saw them in July and when she reexamined them in August.

“Whether the bones were burned or not, that baby was still dead, had unexplained skull fractures, and was buried the backyard. I don’t understand why the burning takes it up such a notch,” Murray wrote to Allen in the September 2017 email, per WLWT.

Meanwhile, prosecutors wrote that Murray’s opinions didn’t “negate [the] evidence that Richardson burned her baby” or that Richardson killed her, The Journal-News reported.

Despite theories offered by the defense and prosecution, the newborn’s cause of death remains undetermined.

“Skylar and her family, particularly her mother, were pretty obsessed with external appearances and how things appeared to the outside world,” County Prosecutor David Fornshell previously told the court, according to the Daily Mail.

“You have a situation where, you know, she’s a cute high school, recent high school graduate; she was a cheerleader 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 and her mother wanted to perpetuate.”

Richardson has been out on bond since August 2017. The judge said jury selection will begin on September 3. The trial is expected to continue for three weeks.

 

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[Featured image: Brooke Skylar Richardson via AP/FOX19 NOW/Michael Buckingham]