LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) – An emotional Skylar Richardson watched deputies and the county coroner describe photos of where she buried her newborn baby shortly after it died in 2017.
Warren County prosecutors are charging Richardson with aggravated murder, manslaughter, tampering with evidence and abuse of a child.
Her defense attorneys said her baby was stillborn, born up to eight weeks earlier than she expected.
Assistant prosecutor Steve Knippen called Richardson’s actions, “the perfect crime.”
Prosecutors had deputies and the county coroner examine photos from the witness stand. Photos showed a small patch within a group of trees marked with a flower pot, which Richardson placed to mark the grave of her baby. It was one of two areas Richardson showed deputies in her backyard.
Photos of the burial site, portions of the baby’s skull and bones that were collected were showed to the court. It was the first introduction of any evidence during the first day of the trial. Richardson was jittery in her chair, clutching tissue while photos of the babies remains were showed.
Deputy John Smith testified in the afternoon. He was part of the team that used Blue Star, a chemical that illuminates remaining blood under dark light.
Smith was asked by Knippen to describe the area that was by Richardson’s bed. He said it was heavily stained and described the shape of the stain as “a small torso.”
Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers countered quickly, “You didn’t mention anything like the mark of a torso in your report?
Smith said that was correct, but he was only answering the prosecutions’ question asking for a description of the stain.
Rittgers pushed Smith on DNA evidence, asking if any DNA from the baby was found in the bedroom. Smith said there wasn’t. Rittgers also said Richardson had bled for three weeks after delivering the baby.
The defense then played a short portion of a recording of the evidence team at work. The tape was loud. Rittgers discussed it as the evidence team laughing when discovering blood in the bathroom during the search. Smith said he wasn’t present at that time, but he thought it sounded like people excited to find evidence.
Warren County coroner Russell Uptegrove testified to evidence found at the scene, including concerns from forensic pathologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray that the remains were burned. Murray later said the bones showed no signs of being burned, which was the conclusion by two other doctors who examined the baby’s remains.
The defense asked Uptegrove if he told Warren County detective Brandi Carter the baby had been burned. Uptegrove said he never said that, and he wasn’t qualified to. He only relayed information to the detective at the scene was Murray’s concerns. The defense said that’s what was in Carter’s report. Uptegrove said it was wrong.
Early portion concentrated on OBGYN, opening statements
Dr. William Andrew, who examined Skylar Richardson on April 27, 2017 and told her she was pregnant, testified during the morning portion of the first day of Skylar Richardson’s trial.
Andrew testified to giving Richardson a 32-centimeter abdominal measurement during her firsts OBGYN visit.
Knippen questioned Andrew first, who said abdominal measurements could be off 3-4 weeks. Every inch of an abdominal measurement would indicate a week of gestation for the baby.
“The measurement was off, because she gave birth just 11 days later,” defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers said.
He asked Andrew if being off the measurement being off that many weeks was a concern. Andrew said it was, and said if the measurement is off by as much as two weeks, they would find that problematic for the baby and take action.
Fornshell questioned Andrew about Richardson’s response to being pregnant.
“She cried and said she can’t have a baby because she was going to college,” Andrew said.
Defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers said it was obvious the measurement was off. Richardson was told her delivery date was estimated 8 to 10 weeks, but she gave birth in the bathroom of her house 11 days later.
Both the prosecution and the defense came out firing during opening statements.
Richardson is charged with aggravated murder, manslaughter, endangering a child, abuse of a corpse and manslaughter.
Knippen said Richardson texted her boyfriend and said the night before was “the worst night ever,” but went to the gym the next day and took photos.
“She took a newborn’s life, buried her in the backyard, and destroyed any evidence of her existence.”
Richardson’s defense attorney said Richardson found out during her first OBGYN visit that she was pregnant and would give birth in 10 weeks.
“Just 11 days ever, not 10 weeks, she delivered a full-term baby,” Rittgers said. “The baby is white, the umbilical cord is not attached, and not breathing and moving.”
Rittgers showed several clips of interrogations between police and Richardson. Richardson was not charged at first after the first interrogation. He showed clips of her second interrogation, with a detective holding her hands, and the other telling her she can get the remains of her baby back if they help her finish their investigation.
“I feel awful because this investigation keeps going because we don’t have the truth yet,” Warren County detective John Faine said to Richardson during the interrogation.
Faine was the lead detective in the Richardson case until he was later demoted, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer