Brooke Skylar Richardson's case back in court to ensure anthropologist can testify

Brooke Skylar Richardson's case back in court to ensure anthropologist can testify
Posted at 10:21 AM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 10:25:57-05

LEBANON, Ohio -- A hearing Monday, the first since an appeals court lifted a gag order in the case of a Carlisle woman accused of killing her baby last spring, will to be assure the availability of an anthropologist for testimony.

Brooke Skylar Richardson is charged with aggravated, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.

Last week, the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown lifted the gag order issued by Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald Oda II in the case against Richardson. Oda issued the gag order in August.

“To presume that there may be news coverage that threatens the administration of justice, whether that be against the state or the defendant, is nothing more than pure speculation,” the court opinion reads.

Richardson, 18, is accused of killing her baby girl, burning the newborn in the family fire pit and then burying the baby in the backyard in May.

According to WCPO media partner the Journal-News, Monday's hearing was scheduled last week to compel the appearance of Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist for the University of Indianapolis.

Defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers said Latham was consulted by the prosecution for a opinion.

“We want to make sure she is available to testify regardless of whether the (prosecution) calls her as a witness,” Rittgers said.

Oda has also denied the defense motion to move the trial out of Warren County to assure a fair and impartial jury hears the case.

The judge said he plans to summon a larger jury pool, have detailed jury instruction and extended voir dire.

“Only after the voir dire process will the court and the parties be able to determine the impact, if any, of pretrial publicity. This issue will be revisited in the event a jury can not be seated,” Oda wrote in his response to the motion filed by the defense Feb. 9.

Richardson remains free on a $50,000 bond and under court-ordered house arrest that was a condition of her release. Her trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to comment on the case.