Warren County Judge Donald Oda II released Brooke Skylar Richardson from her 3-years community control today, after 14 months. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Richardson, then an 18-year-old high school senior, gave birth to the baby in secret and buried her in the backyard. She was acquitted on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering after months of litigation and a lengthy trial.
The paternal grandmother of Richardson’s baby, Tracy Johnson, was in court for the short hearing urging the judge not to terminate the probation.
Johnson said Richardson could have made different choices before during and after the birth, but the choices she made show a disregard for life. She said Richardson has shown no remorse for her actions and has not reached out “to the people whose lives she destroyed.”
“You had the option of giving her up to six months in prison with time served ... I don’t think three years probation is too much to ask,” Johnson said to the judge.
Oda said there is a perception and a reality to this case, and the reality is Richardson was convicted of a low-level felony.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, the Carlisle teen charged with aggravated murder for the death of her infant found buried in the back yard, appeared in Warren County Court with her defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers, for pretrial hearing, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 in Lebanon. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
“There is no reason for me to invest the time and resources of my probation department in supervising you,” Oda said. The judge said probation is not punishment, but “it is an opportunity to demonstrate why the stated prison term of 12 months in prison should not be imposed.”
To Richardson, Oda concluded, “There is nothing ... that leads me to believe you do not follow the rules or are going to commit any crimes in the future.”
According to the attorney, she has a job, is in college and continues with mental health treatment. Richardson is working for her attorneys' law firm, Rittgers and Rittgers, and Richardson intends to study law.
“She has completed two semesters of college, has a cumulative GPA of over 3.8 and currently has a GPA of 4.0 for her most recent semester,” attorney Charles M. Rittgers wrote in the motion. “In addition to school, she has also worked approximately 10 hours per week. She sought alternative employment, but was rejected each time due to the fact she is on probation."
Brooke Skylar Richardson’s trial was scheduled to begin today in Warren County Common Pleas Court, but was cancelled last week as the 12th District Court of Appeals considers a ruling about medical records.
The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office did not respond in writing to the motion. During the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Steve Knippen said, "(the sentence) was more than reasonable and therefore we believe she should fulfill it in its entirety.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to comment.
• Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
• ‘There was no proof at all’: Juror describes Brooke Skylar Richardson verdict decision
• ‘Bring closure for Annabelle’: Richardson family to bury baby’s remains more than 2 years later
• WATCH all videos from Brooke Skylar Richardson trial
• Timeline: Events in the Carlisle buried baby case
• Quotes: Key things said during the Richardson trial
• The 28 people who testified over 6 days