A high school cheerleader accused of killing her newborn baby so she could keep her “perfect life” has been cleared of murder.
Brooke Skylar Richardson cried as the judge read the not guilty verdicts on aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges.
Prosecutors had alleged that in May 2017 the then 18-year-old Richardson had given birth in the bathroom of her family home in Carlisle, Ohio. They claimed she smashed the skull of the baby then buried the corpse in the backyard.
Richardson had hidden her unwanted pregnancy from her boyfriend and parents and continued with life as normal, attending her high school prom and making plans to go to university in Cincinnati.
It was to maintain this “perfect life” that she had killed her child, claimed the prosecution.
Richardson maintained the baby girl, who she named Annabelle, was stillborn and that she hid the body because she was sad and scared.
The baby’s corpse was found about two months later after she told a doctor what had happened.
The case had divided her small hometown of Carlisle in rural Ohio. Facebook pages were devoted to the trial and the comings and goings of her family recorded for social media.
During the trial a forensic pathologist who testified for the prosecution concluded the baby died from “homicidal violence” and prosecutors said Richardson had searched on the internet for “how to get rid of a baby”.
A video of a police interview was played in which she said the baby might have moved and made noises.
However, Cincinnati psychologist Stuart Bassman, for the defence, said “Skylar was being manipulated” into making false statements during interrogations.
He described her as a vulnerable, immature person whose dependent personality disorder makes her want to please authority figures, even to the point of making incriminating statements that were untrue.
Although cleared of the most serious charges, Richardson, now 20, was found guilty of corpse abuse. She will be sentenced later today, but as a first-time offender is expected to be given probation.
Credit: Sky News