LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) – At the end of the fourth day of Skylar Richardson’s trial, the judge dismissed one of the charges against her: tampering with evidence, saying that the state did not meet the burden of proof.
The state Monday rested its case against Skylar Richardson, the now 20-year-old Carlisle High School graduate who buried her baby in her backyard shortly after giving birth days after her senior prom.
She said it was stillborn, Warren County prosecutors said she committed aggravated murder and manslaughter.
One exchange between Richardson and her mother included a panicked Kim over an invoice from the OBGYN.
“This is (your) email from the (doctor) visit,” Kim Richards wrote. “What does ‘patient pregnant’ mean?”
Richardson replied she got to school and would check later. Her mom was upset over her putting it off.
“(Your) life could be over and you will call later,” her mom texted back.
Brandon, I’m so sorry, I feel like I’m absolutely losing everything right now. I lost a child and now all this, and I feel like I’m losing you. I’m so sorry.Skylar Richardson to former boyfiend Brandon Saylor
Richardson apologized profusely and said the statement on the invoice was a mistake. She told her, “have a good day mommy,” and tried calming her down.
Selfie photos Richardson took of herself showed her weight loss following the pregnancy.
The defense came back again firing, asking Wong if there was any evidence Richardson had searched the web seeking websites for information on how to kill her baby or force an abortion?
“No, nothing sinister was in any of the (web tracking) cookies we found,” Wong said.
The defense showed another text from the forensics work between her boyfriend Saylor and herself, using her mom’s phone.
“Brandon, I’m so sorry, I feel like I’m absolutely losing everything right now,” Richardson wrote. “I lost a child and now all this, and I feel like I’m losing you. I’m so sorry.
Before Wong, Saylor testified about texts between him and Richardson. Saylor said he had no idea she was pregnant but was concerned for her.
Faine limits his association with case as defense prods interrogations
Former Warren County detective John Faine took the witness stand this morning and was asked by defense attorneys why he told Sklyar Richardson he didn’t think she killed her baby during interrogation.
Richardson would be charged for aggravated murder, manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and abuse of a child.
“You told her multiple times you didn’t think she killed her baby, why did you say that?” attorney Charles M. Rittgers asked Faine.
Faine said if someone under questioning is only focused on the negative outcome it’s harder to get information from them.
“We don’t know what the possible outcome is going to be,” Faine said. “We want her to be comfortable and tell the truth.”
Faine and Detective Brandi Carter also told Richardson multiple times she would be going home with her family that night if she were truthful. The conversation changed drastically later.
The former Warren County detective often said he didn’t know answers regarding evidence collection or interrogation methods, such as the REID method. He also said he couldn’t recall other details.
He said most of his involvement in the case was during the two interrogations and he normally surprivised the detectives. He also said he came into his detective job already promoted so he didn’t have much of the requisite training.
Carter told Richardson she would be going to jail. She said she should try to take any valuables she had and get rid of them before going to jail.
“Make sure your pockets are empty, nothing hidden in your bra,” Carter said with a laugh.
Richardson didn’t respond. She sat quiet with her head on the table before asking if she was going to prison. Carter said she didn’t know, this would be all decided after she saw the judge.
Faine and Carter were questioning Richardson about burning her baby and it possibly being alive at birth. At the time, a forensic expert ruled the skeletal remains had shown signs of being burned but changed her opinion in a second examination. Other examinations handled by other doctors and forensics experts agreed no evidence of burning was on the skeleton.
Richardson said at one point the detectives were causing her to second guess herself.
Video of interrogation, Faine testimony dominates morning
Prosecution handed Faine Skylar Richardson’s iPhone, which he put into evidence immediately after her initial interrogation. The court then played the video of Richardson’s second interrogation.
In the video, the detectives were working under the assumption the corner’s office had declared the baby burned, a medical fact. It showed in their question of Richardson.
But this information was incorrect. A second examination showed no evidence of burning on the bones of Richardson’s baby. There was also no evidence found in another exam.
“From the information we’re getting from (doctors at the coroner’s office), we know there’s more than what happened than what you shared the other day,” Faine tells Richardson. “A lot of the evidence they presented to us they know from a medical scientific certainty that other things happened.”
Richardson said she felt she may have squeezed the baby too hard after retrieving her from the toilet, where she gave birth.
Detective Brandi Carter eventually asked Richardson about burning the baby.
“Tell me about the fire,” Carter said.
“What fire?” Richardson said confused.
Carter said evidence showed the baby had been burned. Richardson said immediately, “I didn’t burn her.” She emphatically told no to that question and others that followed.
The detectives tell Richardson they know for a fact the baby has been burned. Faine said he knows from talking to her father that the family wanted the remains to do a proper burial. Faine said doctors he were ‘poking and sifting” through the remains right now, and he wanted to get those back to the family, but that could only happen if she admitted the remains were burned.
Carter said: “Maybe you made an attempt to cremate her. Having those ashes with you, it makes you feel like she’s still there.”
Richardson, who had her head on the table, was bawling at times and finally said she may have tried cremating her by touching her with a lighter. The detective’s audio is much more clear.
Richardson’s audio from the interrogation is largely inaudible. Faine, who had a handheld recorder during the first interrogation, didn’t have one for the second, so the only audible is from the recording devices in the room.
Faine left the room and Carter remained with Richardson. She eventually told her she would be going to court, but not to worry because “she had the rest of her life to look forward to.”
Richardson sat for minutes with her head on the table and finally broke down, sobbing uncontrollably.
FRIDAY: Defense lands blows to autopsy report, doctor and prosecution
Dr. Susan Brown of the Montgomery County coroner’s office testified she concluded the baby died from “homicidal violence.” However, she said she couldn’t determine how the baby died. The defense suggested her evaluation was incomplete and discarded facts indicating the baby was stillborn.
Defense asked why she never made an addendum when an actual forensic pathologist from the University of Indianapolis ruled the fractures happened post-death and weren’t related to the baby dying.
Friday testimony revolved around Brown, who was hammered by the defense. She couldn’t answer if a baby or human being was combustible. The defense showed emails to Brown from her forensic pathologist Dr. Murray, who said after the second examination the baby was not burned and any dark spots on bones were due to moisture.
Murray wrote in emails that the prosecution was “upset” over the revelation the bones weren’t burned because it was damaging to their case. Murray was emphatic she wouldn’t change her exam or report for them.
“I ain’t going to lie to them,” Murray wrote in an email to Brown,” and I ain’t going to lie for them.”
After the jury left for the day, Rittgers filed an objection because members of the prosecutor’s office were sitting in the galley and were talking to each other within earshot of the jury.
Judge Donald Oda, who told the prosecution to speed up throughout the afternoon and looked to becoming increasingly frustrated, shook his head after looking up at the ceiling. He took a deep breath and told the people from the prosecution’s office they had to be quiet in the galley.