On September 12, 20-year-old Brooke Skylar Richardson was found not guilty of four of the five charges against her. In 2017, the high school cheerleader was arrested and accused of murdering the infant she had given birth to in May.
Then just 18 years old, Richardson learned she was pregnant after visiting with her family doctor. She kept the pregnancy a secret from friends, family, and her boyfriend. She went to prom, enjoyed her last days of high school, and looked forward to going to college in the fall.
Richardson also failed to return to the doctor’s office for her follow up appointments, even ignoring phone calls from her physician and their assistants. The 20-year-old would later say that she was scared about having a baby, telling police:
“I didn’t really want to have my baby. I really don’t know what I planned to do.”
However, what people didn’t learn until 10 to 12 weeks later, was that after attending her senior prom, Richardson had given birth. In one of her statements to the police, Richardson alleged that the infant was stillborn. And because she didn’t know what to do with her child’s body, she buried the infant in a shallow grave in the garden behind her parents’ home.
As WLWT reports, she gave birth in May 2017. She named the child Annabelle, according to her lawyers.
According to Richardson’s family, the then-teenager struggled with an eating disorder, so when her family started noticing Richardson gaining weight, they assumed it was because she was eating well.
Her family has given Richardson their continued support over the last two years. In a 2017 interview, her aunt Vanessa said:
“Skylar is a pleaser, and she was already blaming herself about the baby being stillborn. She kept wrestling with the distressing idea that she may have somehow caused the baby to be born stillborn, and I think investigators twisted that around to prove that she is guilty of murder.”
After the infant’s remains were found, Richardson adamantly refused the allegations that she killed her baby. She was eventually charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse.
Richardson pled not guilty.
According to People, following a days-long trial, the jury presiding over Richardson’s case deliberated for 4 hours and 25 minutes. On September 12, as Richardson waited for the verdict to be read to her, she could be seen breathing heavily and visibly shaking.
The jury ultimately revealed that Richardson was not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangerment. But guilty of gross abuse of a corpse. As People reports, the tampering with evidence charge was thrown out by the presiding judge, who said, “the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof on that charge.”
As WLWT’s live video shows, Richardson and her family wept as it was revealed she was found not guilty of the most serious charges against her.
Richardson could face up to a year in prison for the gross abuse of a corpse. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 13 at 11:00 a.m.