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Defense wants suspect's statements to parents suppressed in Carlisle buried baby case

Also ask for change of venue over 'burning' report
Posted: 12:39 PM, Mar 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-07 04:20:16Z

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio -- Attorneys for a Carlisle woman accused of killing her baby and burying it in the backyard want statements she made to her parents suppressed.

They're also asking for the trial to be moved elsewhere, blaming what they described as a "premature and completely false report" that the baby had been burned. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell called their motion "misleading at best."

Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.

Richardson named the child Annabelle, according to one of two motions filed Monday. She has maintained the baby was stillborn.

In one motion from attorneys Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers, the defense team makes a case for excluding Richardson’s comments at the Carlisle Police Station outside the presence of officers.

Richardson was interviewed by Carlisle police, who informed her the conversation was being recorded, the motion states.

Until the officers took a break.

"While Brooke was being interviewed law enforcement took a break, removed the recording device and stepped outside and allowed her parents to enter the room and speak to her. During this conversation with her parents, which unbeknownst to any of them was still being recorded by law enforcement, Brooke made statements. It is this conversation with her parents that counsel wishes to address as she had reasonable expectation of privacy in that room," the Rittgers team said in the motion.

The defense said there was no signs of warning in the room that her statements were being recorded.

"… law enforcement removed the only recording device that was pointed out to Brooke, thus creating an impression that the room and interview were no longer being recorded," the Rittgers argue. They say a recorder is also located near the ceiling of the interrogation room but there is no signage to indicate conversations were being audio or video recorded.

They added the layout of the room created an explication of privacy which was violated by recording her conversations with her parents.

The defense team also asked for a change of venue, saying an initial report that Annabelle was burned before being buried tainted the jury pool. A second report found "no signs of burning," the Rittgers said.

They argued a recently-lifted gag order prevented the public from knowing that fact, leaving potential jurors "with the horrible mental picture of a girl burning her baby without realizing that version is false, contradicted by science, and retracted by the state's doctor."

A judge previously denied a change of venue request from the Rittgers -- and ordered it stricken from the record, describing an attached memorandum as a "self-serving recitation of facts" that posed a "serious and imminent threat" to the jury pool's impartiality.

Fornshell, in his response Tuesday, argued the defense team left out key facts and mischaracterized the opinions of potential expert witnesses. The prosecutor said he didn't want to "further inflame the media coverage" and asked Judge Donald Oda II for a hearing.