Ohio ex-cheerleader found not guilty of killing newborn daughter she buried in backyard

The defense argued that the then-teenager was scared because her daughter was stillborn. Prosecutors had alleged she killed the baby.

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By Minyvonne Burke

A young Ohio woman accused of killing her newborn daughter and burying her in the backyard of her family's home was found not guilty of murder.

Brooke Skylar Richardson, now 20, was acquitted Thursday of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter for the May 2017 death of her baby girl, according to NBC affiliate WCMH in Columbus.

She was, however, found guilty of abuse of a corpse and sentenced Friday to three years probation.

After probation, she could become eligible to remove the charges from her criminal record, WCMH reported.

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The defense team argued during the trial that Richardson, who was a high school cheerleader at the time, was scared because the baby, which she named Annabelle, was stillborn, according to NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati.

But prosecutors alleged Richardson killed her baby and then buried the body in the backyard of her family's home in Carlisle, a village about 40 miles north of Cincinnati, days after her high school prom because she did not want to "ruin her perfect life," WCMH reported.

Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen said in court that days after the baby's death Richardson sent two text messages bragging about her appearance.

“Shortly, after murdering her daughter and placing her daughter in the dirt, and not even having the decency to cover it with a blanket, she sent two elated text messages: My belly is back, my belly is back,” Knippen said, according to WCMH.

The baby's remains weren't found until two months after the birth.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said at a news conference Thursday following the verdict that it's unclear how the baby was killed because of decomposition.

"Brooke Richardson created the situation that prevented us from being able to conduct an autopsy on that baby girl," he said, telling reporters that he is "absolutely convinced she caused the death" of her child.

According to WLWT, Richardson faces up to one year in prison for the abuse of a corpse conviction, but because she is a first-time offender, she could get probation.