Brooke Richardson appears for pre-trial hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court

No plea offer for teen charged in Carlisle buried baby case as trial approaches

After months of appeals and meetings between attorneys in judge’s chambers, Brooke Skylar Richardson was in Judge Donald Oda II’s courtroom for a brief hearing. Her trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 3.

Richardson’s attorneys, Charles H. Rittgers and Charles M. Rittgers, and Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Knippen agreed during the hearing that there had been no plea offers for the defendant, who is now 19.

A pre-trial hearing was set for Aug. 19.

READ MORE: Ohio Supreme Court won’t hear appeal in Carlisle buried baby case

The defense said it plans to file additional motions before the trial but did not say what they might be.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined comment.

Richardson and her parents left the justice center without comment She is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering in death of her infant daughter. She is free on bond.

In April the Ohio Supreme Court denied a motion to reconsider the defense’s appeal of a doctor-patient privilege issue in the case.

“We are obviously disappointed and we don’t necessarily agree (with the Supreme Court ruling), but that’s the Supreme Court and we will have to live with that decision,” Charles H. Rittgers said.

In October, the appellate court sided with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office concerning doctor-patient privilege in the case.

The appeals court ruled that physician-patient privilege doesn’t apply in the case and that the teen’s conversations with two doctors should be admitted as evidence in her upcoming trial.

MORE: Brooke Richardson off house arrest, but judge imposes other restrictions

Documents requesting the Ohio Supreme Court take the case were filed under seal, with the defense stating, “The physician-patient privilege statute exists for a specific purpose to create an atmosphere of confidentiality and to encourage patients to make a full disclosure of their conditions to their physicians without fear that those details will later become public.”

Both the defense and prosecution had appealed a split decision by Oda just days before the trial was scheduled to begin last spring.

Oda ruled that doctor-patient privilege did not apply to anything Richardson said about burying the infant’s remains. However, Oda ruled that another conversation Richardson had with a different doctor was privileged.

Richardson’s defense team argued that all of the teen’s conversations with her doctors about her pregnancy or what may have happened afterward were protected by doctor-patient privilege.

Warren County prosecutors, however, said a conversation Richardson had with one of her doctors — that she buried the remains in the backyard, which prompted the physician to call police — is not privileged because of a doctor’s duty to report abuse, neglect or other harm to a child.

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