Cheerleader Found Not Guilty Of Killing Newborn She Buried In Backyard

The case of Brooke Skylar Richardson has captivated the country. Richardson, now 20 years old, was arrested in May 2017 and charged with several counts after authorities discovered the remains of a newborn baby girl buried in the backyard of the home she shares with her family. Richardson claimed at the time that she didn't know she was pregnant, found out much too late to terminate the pregnancy, and carried the pregnancy to near-term in secret. She says the baby girl, whom she named Annabelle, was stillborn, and panic caused her to bury the body of the newborn in her backyard to keep her friends and family from finding out.

Eventually, she told her doctor that the baby had been born, and the doctor alerted authorities. When Richardson's trial began, prosecutors presented evidence that they felt supported their theory: that Richardson gave birth to a live baby girl, killed the baby, and then buried the body to keep her secret.

A jury disagreed, and on September 13, Richardson was found not guilty of the most serious charges she was facing.

During the trial, prosecutors painted a picture of a popular, pretty cheerleader who got pregnant and hid the pregnancy from her family out of shame. They didn't contradict the fact that Brooke Skylar Richardson, then 17, was already 32 weeks along in her pregnancy when she found out. But they said that rather than face the situation and tell her parents, she kept the pregnancy a secret, and when the baby was born, she deliberately killed it and hid the body. They presented evidence that they say showed Richardson never wanted the baby, and even searched for ways to get rid of a baby prior to the birth.

In one shocking moment during the trial, they presented text messages that Richardson sent just two days after the baby was born, in which she was bragging about having her body back. Richardson has maintained her innocence since her arrest, saying that she panicked when the baby was stillborn, and did the only thing she could think to do.

Brooke Skylar Richardson was acquitted on aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter charges. She was convicted on one count of abuse of a corpse, which carried a possible sentence of up to one year in prison.

The response on social media hasn't been good.

The judge in the case sentenced the young woman to three years probation instead - if she completes her probation in a satisfactory manner, she may be eligible to have the charges expunged from her criminal record.

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