Defense in buried baby case asks judge to reconsider change of venue motion

Defense in buried baby case asks judge to reconsider change of venue motion
Posted at 2:53 PM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 14:53:53-05

LEBANON, Ohio - Attorneys for the 18-year-old accused of killing her infant then burning and burying the body in her backyard are asking the judge to change his mind about restrictions on a motion to move the trial out of Warren County, the Journal-News reported.

Brooke Skylar Richardson's attorneys,  Charles H. Rittgers and Charles M. Rittgers, filed a motion for change of venue last week that included a memorandum supporting the motion that caused a strongly worded response from the judge.

That memorandum apparently was four pages long and contained specifics of the case. Last year, Warren County Judge Donald Oda II issued a gag order prohibiting all parties involved in the case from making public statements about the case.

In his response to the change of venue motion, Oda said, “this case is not going to be tried in the press.”

Oda added in his response that the memorandum attached by the defense “is highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the administration of justice in this case.”

The Rittgers team filed a motion in response Friday just 10 minutes before the clerk of courts office closed asking Oda to amend his entry on the change of venue motion.

“The court’s entry, which is now available to the press, states that the defense counsel’s motion for change of venue is ‘more that a little disingenuous.’ The court’s order, which is now in the public sphere, is casting doubt as to the defense counsel’s sincerity, credibility, and truthfulness by indicating that the court is troubled by the defense memorandum,” the Rittgers team stated in the motion.

The motion notes the defense was never instructed by the judge to file motions under seal.

“Defense counsel respectfully requests the court amend its entry and order to reflect that it is not characterizing defense counsel as dishonest, disingenuous or deceitful, that defense counsel was following competent legal standards…” the Rittgers team said in the motion.

The defense team also argued, “Prior to the filing of the motion for change in venue, the narrative for the public has been the prosecutor’s press conference and the associated media coverage from the prosecutor’s selective and incorrect narrative at that press conference. If the state had not voluntarily injected into the public sphere alleged facts that are contradicted by opinions of all the experts, state and defense, there would be no need for the motion for change of venue.”

Oda has not made a decision on the actual motion for change of venue.

A pre-trial conference in the case is scheduled for Feb. 20. A hearing is set for March 14, and Richardson’s trial is scheduled to begin April 16.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO 9 On Your Side.