Cheerleader Faces Trial For Brutal Murder Of Secret Newborn Daughter
Brooke Skylar Richardson, 20, has faced court in Ohio, accused of murdering her newborn daughter days after her prom.
Richardson allegedly gave birth to her daughter in 2017, before smashing her skull and burying her in the family's backyard.
She was charged with aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter for the incident which allegedly happened when Richardson was 18 years old.
Jury selection for the trial took place at Warren County Court on Tuesday, with potential jurors given a questionnaire to ensure fairness due to the high profile nature of the case.
In the opening statements made by Richardson's defence lawyers, it was argued that the then-teenager gave birth to a stillborn girl at 33 weeks, who she named Annabelle.
"Police in the first interrogation, she said she had a stillborn birth and they don't file charges," lawyer Charles H. Rittgers said.
But prosecutors claim she gave birth at full term, and were alerted to the pregnancy by Richardson's doctor who she had visited weeks earlier.
"After hearing from a doctor six days later, police are told to get a confession and that the baby is burned. What police don't say, that doctor was wrong. He said he was wrong," Rittgers said.
"The police told Skylar (as Richardson is known) it would be better to say the baby was cremated and not burned. She denied this 17 times."
It is alleged that after giving birth in the bathroom Richardson killed the baby because she did not want to be pregnant out of wed-lock for fear it would ruin her and her family's reputation in the tight-knit community.
"Skylar and her family, particularly her mother, were pretty obsessed with external appearances and how things appeared to the outside world," said County Prosecutor David Fornshell.
"You have a situation where, you know, she's a cute high school, recent high school graduate; she was a cheerleader described (as) a good girl by her attorney as you heard after the arraignment."
"And I think that kind of perception is one that Skylar wanted to perpetuate and her mother wanted to perpetuate."
Richardson's defence team will argue an expert witness will show there was no evidence she had tried to burn the body.
"What started as an 18-year-old high school girl who was frightened and saddened because of giving birth to a stillborn baby whom she named Annabelle and then telling her doctor of the stillborn and burial in the backyard turned into something sinister and grotesque," Rittgers said.