Latest hearing in Carlisle buried baby case not held as planned

March 05, 2018

A hearing was not held Monday after being scheduled as the first meeting between attorneys since a gag order was lifted by an appeals court in the case of a Carlisle teen mother accused of killing her baby last spring.

A notice of hearing was set last week to assure the availability of an anthropologist for testimony at trial for Brooke Skylar Richardson.

Richardson is charged with aggravated, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.

Last week, the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown lifted the gag order issued by Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald Oda II in the case against Richardson. Oda issued the gag order in August.

MORE: Appeals court lifts gag order in buried baby case

“To presume that there may be news coverage that threatens the administration of justice, whether that be against the state or the defendant, is nothing more than pure speculation,” the court opinion reads.

Richardson, 18, is accused of killing her baby girl, burning the newborn in the family fire pit and then burying the baby in the backyard in May.

Monday’s hearing was to compel the appearance of Dr. Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist for the University of Indianapolis.

Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers said Latham was consulted by the prosecution for an opinion.

“We want to make sure she is available to testify regardless of whether the (prosecution) calls her as a witness,” Rittgers said.

Defense attorneys said they are starting the process of certifying Latham as a material witness and assure her testimony.

MORE: Prosecution opposes change of venue in Carlisle baby death case

Oda has also denied the defense motion to move the trial out of Warren County to assure a fair and impartial jury hears the case.

The judge said he plans to summon a larger jury pool and have detailed jury instruction and extended voir dire.

“Only after the voir dire process will the court and the parties be able to determine the impact, if any, of pretrial publicity. This issue will be revisited in the event a jury can not be seated,” Oda wrote in his response to the motion filed by the defence on Feb. 9.

Richardson remains free on a $50,000 bond and under court-ordered house arrest that was a condition of her release. Her trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to comment on the case.