A CHEERLEADER who buried her unwanted baby in her garden after giving birth in secret broke down in tears today as she was cleared of the newborn’s murder.
Brooke Skylar Richardson, from Ohio, US, had been accused of smashing her newborn’s skull with a rock days after her senior prom when she was aged 18.
She had faced up to life in prison if she had been convicted of the most serious charge of aggravated murder.
But Richardson, now 20, sobbed with relief when a judge read out not guilty verdicts on aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges.
The former cheerleader was found guilty of corpse abuse by the Warren County jury and she will be sentenced on Friday.
The charge carries a potential sentence of up to one year in prison, but as a first-time offender, she could get probation.
Her parents cried in the front row of the court as the verdict was delivered. “We love you so much,” her mum said to her. “We love you, baby.”
Richardson was just a teen when she secretly gave birth in her bathroom and buried the newborn in her backyard on 1 May, 2017.
Brooke Skylar Richardson posing with boyfriend Brandon Saylor – not the father of the baby – weeks before giving birth[/caption]
The cheerleader has been charged with aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter[/caption]
The cheerleader was also photographed just before her school prom, with a clear bump[/caption]
It was just a few days after her senior prom and weeks before she was set to start college.
Her parents and friends have said she hid the pregnancy from them.
The court heard that in 2017 she told a doctor that she gave birth to a stillborn baby, who she named Annabelle and then buried in the garden of her parents’ home.
The medic reported the incident to police who soon located the child’s remains around two months after she gave birth.
Richardson was later charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering and pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors claimed the cheerleader wanted to keep her “perfect life” that included plans to begin classes at the University of Cincinnati.
They claimed she smashed the baby’s head with a rock before burying him – claims Richardson strongly denies.
Prosecutors said Richardson had also searched on the internet for “how to get rid of a baby”.
Her defence said the baby she named Annabelle was stillborn and that the teen was sad and scared.
Her legal team claimed Richardson kept quiet because she didn’t realise she was due so soon and her response was normal for a scared teenager.
They accused prosecutors of creating “a false narrative” to sensationalise the case.
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“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,” one of her representatives told the court.
Cincinnati psychologist Stuart Bassman said “Skylar was being manipulated” into making false statements during interrogations.
He described Richardson as a vulnerable, immature person whose dependent personality disorder makes her want to please authority figures, even to the point of making incriminating statements that were untrue.
The baby’s body was found in the back garden of her Ohio home[/caption]
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