Brooke Skylar Richardson is now a free woman after a jury acquitted her of killing and burying her newborn baby in her Ohio parent’s backyard.
The ex-cheerleader, now 20, was found not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Richardson admitted to burying the body of her baby girl, named Annabelle, in July of 2017, after giving birth in secret. She was 18 years old at the time.
Jurors did find her guilty on one charge of gross abuse of a corpse, which includes a 12-month maximum prison bid. Richardson had no prior criminal record.
At her sentencing, Richardson pleaded, "I just wanted to say how sorry I was. I can sometimes be selfish, but I would like to think that I've become better in the knowledge that I've upset everyone and hurt so many people with what I've done. I'm forever sorry." Before her sentencing, her father Scott asked the judge for mercy so his daughter could treat an eating disorder in the safety of her own home.
When Richardson gave birth to a baby girl, she maintained the baby was stillborn, but the prosecution believed she killed Annabelle, the name Richardson gave her baby after she was born. A jury was not convinced of the prosecution’s argument.
Tracy Johnson, the mother of Trey Johnson, the father of Annabelle, tearfully spoke on behalf of the prosecution as a victim’s advocate for Annabelle.
“Two years, four months, one week, in case you were wondering, that’s how old my granddaughter would have been if she were here today,” Johnson said. “None of it fits the amount of pain I’ve felt that I never got to know my granddaughter. We are as much her family as Skylar.”
Instead of jail time, Richardson was sentenced to three years probation, with credit for the seven days she had already spent in custody. If probation is violated, Richardson could spend up to one year in prison, according to Judge Donald Oda II’s guidelines.
The contrast in sentencing for white families compared to Black families who suffer the same loss continues to spark outrage.
White parents, Morgan Miller and husband, former Olympic gold metal skier Bode Miller, lost their 19-month-old daughter, Emeline, in a tragic accidental drowning. Emeline, nicknamed Emmy, was found floating face down in their neighbor’s pool in Coto de Caza, California last June.
Although Emeline was resuscitated, the toddler experienced massive brain damage due to the lack of oxygen for an extended period of time. She passed away the following day.
Although Emeline’s parents received overwhelming public support, thoughts and prayers, a Black Florida mother and boyfriend was instead arrested when her two sons accidentally drowned in similar circumstances.
Wildline Joseph, 23, was arrested on Saturday, September 7, four days after her boyfriend, John Louis Lynn Jr. was apprehended by police on two counts of aggravated manslaughter, one for each of her dead children.
Similar to Emeline’s death, Branario Minto, 5, and Ja'Kye Joseph, 6, were found by relatives submerged at a North Lauderdale condominium community pool earlier this year.
Instead of an outpouring of love and sympathy due to a heartbreaking tragedy, Joseph and Lynn are being held responsible for the boys’ deaths, as authorities claim the pair failed to provide proper care and supervision.
Both Lynn and Joseph are each being held on a $250,000 bond, as the parents of Emeline are at home, grieving the loss of their daughter. Last August, the Miller’s announced they are expecting twin boys.