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Published: Friday, September 13, 2019 @ 5:10 PM
— Brooke Skylar Richardson will not spend any time in jail after being sentenced for gross abuse of a corpse.
She has been sentenced to three years of community control.
She could spend up to 12 months in prison, if she violates conditions of her community control, according to the ruling by Judge Donald Oda II on Friday morning.
MORE ON THE VERDICTS
Richardson was convicted by a jury on Thursday of gross abuse of a corpse in the death of her baby girl on May 7, 2017. Richardson had the baby in secret and buried her in the backyard of her Carlisle home.
She was acquitted on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangering, and the Warren County prosecutor said that was most likely because the prosecution couldn’t produce a cause of death of the baby.
Before the sentencing, multiple people gave statements.
Tracy Johnson, the baby’s paternal grandmother and mother of the baby’s father, Trey Johnson, said the family has suffered pain in the more than two years since the incident.
“Her selfish decision was not her only choice,” Tracy Johnson said. “She had a way out.”
Brooke Richardson spoke before her sentencing. She said she can be selfish, and she knew she hurt many people.
“I’m forever sorry,” she said.
Richardson’s attorneys said she was down to 89 pounds because of an eating disorder, and she has lost hair. Her father, Scott, asked the judge to get her home as soon as possible so they can take care of her.
“We’re concerned for her health,” Scott Richardson said.
Before imposing his sentence, Oda said the case shows “how precious life is.” He said he knows “in his heart” that if Richardson had made other decisions, the baby would be alive.
He called Richardson’s actions a “grotesque disregard for life.”
Oda released the baby’s remains to the Richardson family after Scott Richardson told the judge they would be buried respectfully and that Johnson’s family would be able to pay their respects. Attorneys said the family already has a burial plot secured.
The remains will be given to the Richardsons within seven days.
UPDATE @ 11: a.m.:
Sentencing is underway for Brooke Skylar Richardson after a jury convicted her Thursday of abuse of a corpse in the death of her baby.
Defense attorneys and Richardson’s family members arrived in the courtroom shortly before 11 a.m.
We’ll continue to update this story as details are released in court.
Brooke Skylar Richardson will be sentenced this morning after being convicted of abuse of a corpse in the death of her baby in May 2017.
But Richardson avoided convictions on the more serious charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child endangering.
The abuse of corpse charge is a fifth-degree felony. She could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail, although defense attorneys Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers are hopeful she will not spend any time incarcerated.
Her bond was revoked until sentencing at 11 a.m. today, and she was held for the night in the Warren County Jail.
Richardson was accused by prosecutors of concealing her unwanted pregnancy, having her baby in secret and burying her in the backyard. The defense agreed Richardson had the baby in secret and buried her, but they said the baby was stillborn, and they fought hard against contentions she also burned the baby.
While taking to local and national media in the lobby of the county justice center, the Rittgers team took the prosecution to task for the degree of charges against Richardson and the use of evidence later recanted by the coroner’s office that the remains were charred.
“This (case) was well overcharged from the get-go, and it was so juicy for the government to think that, ‘Oh, not only did she murder her baby but she burned her baby,’ which tainted the whole jury pool, which is exactly what we were afraid of,” Rittgers Sr. said. “Ever since her indictment and ever since that news conference, we thought we were in a hole.”
Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell said after the verdicts that he “gets” why the jury came to the verdict it did, but Richardson’s statements, along with her actions before and after the birth, were evidence of a homicide that some jurors may believe. But even those jury members must not have been certain beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.
Fornshell said Richardson buried her baby so that evidence could not be taken from the body during scientific examination.
“She accomplished what she intended to do,” he said.
There are a lot of opinions, even in the prosecutor’s office, about how the baby died, Fornshell said.