LEBANON, Ohio — The trial of an 18-year-old mother charged with murder in the death of her newborn baby is scheduled to begin in November.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, of Carlisle, is accused of burning and burying her newborn baby hours after her birth. Prosecutor David Fornshell said the baby was born alive. Richardson faces charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
In a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, Richardson’s trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 6. Until then, Richardson is on house arrest with an ankle GPS monitor.
Richardson was given a $50,000 bond and house arrest, which was criticized as “too lax” by community members and some legal experts.
Retired Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel said he thinks Richardson’s bond was set too low.
“Let me put it in a diplomatic way: This is highly unusual,” Nadel said.
Protestors were outside the courthouse Tuesday to argue Richardson’s house arrest and bond amount.
On Thursday, Judge Don Oda issued a gag order in the case, barring the defense and prosecution from talking to the media about the case.
Hours earlier, Fornshell revealed via Facebook that Richardson’s baby was a girl.
Fornshell hasn’t released many details in the case, like the baby’s father or how the baby died. He did say said he believes the motive to kill the baby was related to Richardson and her mother’s obsession with “appearances and how things appear to the outside world.” Fornshell said Richardson and her mother would not have wanted the community to know she was pregnant and had a baby.
Fornshell said Richardson gave birth two days after the Carlisle High School prom, sometime late May 6 or early May 7.
Carlisle police were notified July 14 by an OB-GYN that a stillborn baby may have been born to a teenager in town. Police found the baby’s remains that night.
Richardson pleaded not guilty to the charges; defense attorney Charles Rittger insists that Richardson “did not kill her baby.”
Rittger said the defense plans to have its own experts examine the baby’s remains.
The prosecutor told WCPO news partner The Journal-News that he didn’t seek the death penalty, in part, because it could be impossible to prove how exactly the baby died.
“There was evidence presented to the grand jury that she purposely caused the death of the child.… The grand jury found probable cause that she purposely caused the death of the baby, but that is a far cry proving beyond a reasonable doubt to get the death penalty,” Fornshell said.
No one in the prosecutor’s office who reviewed the case believed successfully getting the death penalty was possible, he said.
“This whole discussion was had in my office, and there wasn’t a single prosecutor or assistant prosecutor that looked at this case and believed that this was one where we would be likely to obtain the death penalty,” Fornshell said.