Ohio woman accused of killing her newborn found not guilty of murder, manslaughter; guilty of abuse of a corpse

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LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) — An Ohio woman accused of killing her newborn daughter and concealing the evidence has been found not guilty.

Skylar Richardson was found not guilty of aggravated murder, manslaughter and destroying evidence after the jury read its verdict to end her trial on Thursday.

Richardson was however, found guilty of abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony. Her bail was revoked by Judge Donald Oda and she will remain in custody until her sentencing scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday.

Richardson was charged with killing her baby, destroying the evidence and burying the infant behind her house. At the time of the child’s birth, she had not told anyone, including her parents and the child’s father, about her pregnancy. The defense said the baby was stillborn.

An angry and emotional Charles H. Rittgers, part of Richardson’s defense team along with his son Charles M. Rittgers, took questions from the dozens of media that were covering the trial.

“As her attorney and knowing other cases around the country, this case was so overcharged,” Charles H. Rittgers sad. “It’s what we’ve battled from the beginning. The case was so juicy, and the way things came down after the indictment, we were really in a hole.”

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2:51 P.M. UPDATE: The jury came back with a question to the judge around 2:20 p.m. about the law regarding abuse of a corpse, asking for a more simplified definition regarding the defendant’s knowledge. Judge Donald Oda referred them back to the law as written.

11:33 a.m. UPDATE: The prosecution was allowed to give remarks before and after the defense. Kraft went first, painting Richardson as someone who didn’t want her baby because it would “ruin her perfect life.”

Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen finished for the prosecution, saying circumstantial evidence had as much weight as direct evidence. He attacked Richardson by citing her texts in the days following the birth of her baby in May 2017.

He cited remarks from Dr. Kim Brady, parts of the interrogation between the defendant and Detectives Brandi Carter and former Detective John Faine, and the circumstances of the birth to hammer Richardson, who he said murdered her child. Kraft called the murder “the perfect crime.”

Knippen stated that Richardson buried her baby on purpose to dispose of the evidence of the baby’s birth.

Rittgers attacked the prosecution and the Warren County Sherrif’s Office to open his remarks.

“They knew two years ago the cremation story was false,” Rittgers said. “They knew Dr. Murray said it was false. They came in here after two years later and, ‘Well Skylar said it’ during interrogation.’ We know in this case you can’t light a baby on fire.”

He said the case was strange from the beginning because normally, the defense has to poke holes in scientific evidence provided by the defense. In this case, it was the defense providing scientific evidence and the prosecution attempting to poke holes in it.

He also blasted the prosecution for not putting Det. Brandi Carter on the witness stand. Carter was there for the second interrogation and was the lead detective on the case.

“I’ve never heard of it, ever, where they won’t put their lead detective on the stand in a homicide case,” Rittgers said of the prosecution.

He finished by showing what reasonable doubt means in making a ruling.

Knippen hammered Richardson on text messages in the days following the baby’s birth.

“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.

Knippen painted Richardson as being obsessed with her appearance and ‘perfect life.’

He focused on her actions during the night of the birth and said it was proof she planned on killing the baby.

“If it came out not breathing, why didn’t she try to get it help?” Knippen asked. “If she thinks something is wrong, why didn’t she get her parents, her brother, call 911 or go to the hospital.”

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said afterward, “I felt like she got a fair trial. The advocacy on both sides did a good job.”

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