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Published: Monday, October 15, 2018 @ 12:00 AM
WARREN COUNTY — A claim by prosecutors in the case of a Carlisle teenage accused of killing her newborn has caused a strong response from her defense team.
During oral arguments last month at the 12th District Court of Appeals, a Warren County prosecutor said Brooke Skylar Richardson had no intention of having her baby.
That brought a reaction from the teen’s defense attorney, Charlie H. Rittgers. The Warren County attorney is representing Richardson at trial for allegedly killing her newborn and burying the girl’s remains in her parent’s backyard last summer.
“That is a total fabrication,” Rittgers said after the hearing.
But the public rebuttal wasn’t enough, and in a new motion the defense says the “misrepresentations” by the prosecution were sensational material for “click-bait.” The hearing was well attended and reported by area media.
On Oct. 5, Neal Schuett, Richardson’s attorney who represented her at the appeal court, filed a motion to supplement the point with a transcript from a doctor Richardson saw.
“The defense acknowledges the court already has audio/video recording … however it is imperative that this court have a written version of the interview,” the attorney said in the motion. “So that the court can read an accurate account of the privileged communications that occurred between (the doctor) and Miss Richardson rather that the blatant misrepresentation of (the doctor’s) statements that state of Ohio offered to this court in oral arguments.”
The defense says in the motion the prosecution, on more than one occasion, “knowing misstated the record by asserting that (the doctor) told police that Miss Richardson said ‘she has no intention of having this baby.’”
A review of the transcript of the doctor’s interview with police proves the prosecution’s statement is “unequivocally false,” the defense says.
“The state’s misrepresentations certainly provided sensational material for click-bait headlines across the internet, but should not be a valid consideration in this court’s determination as it has no basis in fact,” the defense wrote.
Warren County prosecutors responded Friday saying the statement is based in more fact that just the interview with the doctor.
“The state’s argument that defendant had no intention of having her baby is not just limited to the evidence contained in (the doctor’s) interview, but rather, is based on the totality of evidence,” Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Kirsten Brandt wrote in the response.
Brandt said that evidence is included in another doctor’s interview with Lt. John Faine and Detective Brandi Carter.
“Therefore if defendant wants this court to review an ‘accurate account’ of her contact and discussions with Hilltop OB-GYN, she should not limit this court’s review of just one interview,” Brandt wrote in the motion.
The prosecution also pointed out audio recordings from both doctors were provided to the appeals court in April.
“The state would encourage the court to review both interviews when determining whether the evidence supports the state’s argument,” Brandt said.
After learning of the prosecution’s reply when contacted by this new outlet, Rittgers had more strong words.
“Skylar Richardson is facing life in prison, and I am surprised by the prosecutor doubling down on their mischaracterizaton of the evidence when they claim that Skylar told (the doctor) that she had no intention of having the baby, which is totally a false statement,” Rittgers said in an interview with this news organization.
“Their reply to our motion stating the court should consider (both doctors’ statements) is just a red herring because (the other doctor) makes no statement whatsoever that Skylar said she had no intention of ever having a baby.”
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined comment.
Both the defense and prosecution are appealing a split decision handed down by the trial judge, Donald Oda II, just days before the trial was scheduled to begin in the spring.
Oda ruled that doctor-patient privilege did not apply to anything Richardson said about burying the infant’s remains. However, Oda ruled that another conversation Richardson had with a different doctor was privileged.
Her defense team argues that all of her conversations with her doctors about her pregnancy or what may have happened afterward are covered under doctor-patient privilege.
Warren County prosecutors say a conversation Richardson had with one of her doctors — that she buried the remains in the backyard, which prompted him to call police — is not privileged because of a doctor’s duty to report abuse, neglect or other harm to a child.
KEY POINTS IN THE CASE:
- Brooke Syklar Richardson faces charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering in the death of her infant daughter.
-Prosecutors and defense lawyers today argued their legal challenges to an appeals court, seeking to overturn portions of a lower court’s split ruling about medical records days before the Richardson trial had been set to start.
-Richardson’s defense team wanted today’s oral arguments closed to the public, but judges denied that request.
-The trial is on hold until the appeals court rules.