The family of Brooke Skylar Richardson plans to give her infant a “proper burial” more than two years after the former cheerleader admitted to burying the baby in the backyard of her Ohio home.
Judge Donald Oda II determined Friday the remains of the child, who Richardson named Annabelle, would be returned to the Richardson family, who had already secured a plot of land for the baby.
“They had made plans now for more than two years to have a proper burial, proper memorial service, but we’ve asked them, even without having Annabelle back, asked them to hold off on balloon releases and a lot of things they’ve wanted to do because of the pending case,” Defense attorney Charles Rittgers told the judge, the Journal-News reported. “The Richardson family would like to bring closure for Annabelle and give her an eternal resting place.”
The location of the burial site must also be accessible to the family of Trey Johnson, the baby’s father, Oda ruled.
Richardson was 18 and a senior in high school when on May 7, 2017, she buried the body of her daughter in the backyard of her family’s home.
The remains were recovered that July after police were notified by an OB-GYN that Richardson told them she gave birth to a stillborn baby that she buried.
Prosecutors alleged that the varsity cheerleader didn’t want to become a single teenaged mom, but Richardson’s attorneys argued the infant was stillborn and didn’t meet the legal criteria to be considered a child.
Oda reproached Richardson for what he said were actions she took that he believed led to the baby’s death.
“I believe if you had made different decisions, [the baby] would still be here,” Oda said. “I think that your choices before birth, during birth and after birth show a grotesque disregard for life.”
Now 20, Richardson on Thursday was acquitted of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment, but was found guilty of gross abuse of a corpse.
During her sentencing on Friday, Richardson apologized for her actions.
“I would do anything you ask,” she told the judge in what was the first time in two years she had spoken out on the matter. “I can sometimes be selfish, but I’m getting better. I’m forever sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve hurt a lot of people. I am really, really sorry. And I understand.”
Richardson was sentenced to three years’ probation, with credit for the seven days she had already spent in custody. If she is found violating the terms of her probation, she could spend up to a year in jail.