A Carlisle teen accused of killing her infant and then burning and burying the body in the backyard of her home was in the Warren County Justice Center on Thursday for a conference with the court.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, is charged with aggravated murder and several other felonies. She is free on $50,000 bond.
Here are five things to know about the case:
1. Attorneys met today with judge
Prosecutors and attorneys met in judge’s chambers Thursday and there was no testimony or evidence presented in the courtroom.
Richardson walked down the hallway outside Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda’s courtroom with her parents and then went to a room reserved as attorney meeting space. She did not enter the courtroom and appeared to be meeting with her attorney, Charlie M. Rittgers, after the conference in chambers.
2. Trial remains set for April
Another status conference with the court has been scheduled for Jan. 25. Richardson’s trial is scheduled for April 16.
Prosecutors say the cheerleader gave birth to a baby girl on May 6 or 7, caused the baby’s death then covered it up by burning it and burying it in the yard.
The bill of particulars filed in September by the prosecution has little additional information about the charges against Richardson. But the jury will have to consider if the evidence is enough to convict her of either aggravated murder or involuntary manslaughter.
The aggravated murder charge maintains the defendant “purposely caused the death of her infant.” But the involuntary manslaughter charge says she “caused the death of her infant child by committing endangering children,” meaning she “failed to assist, care for, and/or seek medical attention for her infant child after her birth.”
3. Exact cause of death may never be known
Rittgers has said Richardson did not kill her baby. The prosecution has previously said the baby was born alive. But Warren County Coroner Dr. Russell Uptegrove says the exact cause of death may never be known due to the condition of the remains.
A gag order has been issued by Oda prohibiting all parties involved in the case from making public statements about the case.
4. Family says teen showed police where she buried baby
In an interview with Cincinnati Magazine, Richard’s extended family members said Richardson delivered a stillborn baby and suffered from an eating disorder.
Family members told the magazine that Richardson was scared and blamed herself that the baby was a stillborn, so she buried the baby in her backyard.
The family members said Richardson admitted to police the pregnancy and burial of a stillborn baby, and showed them where in the yard behind her house she had buried the baby.
5. Here’s what Ohio’s “Safe Haven” law says
Ohio’s “Safe Haven” law provides an option for parents of newborns who wish to give up the infant within 30 days of birth.
Ohio’s safe haven law allows a birth parent to leave an infant with a medical worker at a hospital, at a fire department or other emergency service organization, or with a law enforcement officer.
The law provides protection from prosecution only for the child’s parents who leave the child at one of those places.
“If the infant is left with a person at one of these places, and has not been abused, the parent will face no legal consequences for making this choice,” according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.
The birth parent is not required to provide any information, including his or her name, but basic health information can be helpful. A form is available online at www.odjfs.state.oh.us.
This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Katie Wedell.