'Buried baby' murder trial delayed after defense, state appeal judge's ruling

Appeals could take eight months
'Buried baby' murder trial delayed after defense, state appeal judge's ruling
Posted at 6:40 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-13 14:02:20-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- The Brooke Skylar Richardson "buried baby" murder trial won't be starting Monday as scheduled - or possibly even this year.

The judge ordered a delay Friday after the defense appealed a Thursday ruling on what exhibits could be admitted. Later, the prosecution also appealed.

The Journal-News reported that the appeals could take as long as eight months, according to Ben Manning, court administrator for the 12th District Court of Appeals.

The two sides have been arguing over recorded interviews between Richardson and her doctors, as well as medical records that fall under doctor-patient privilege.

The defense said it wants to use some and exclude others. The prosecution said the defense can’t have it both ways.

Both sides in the case said Thursday they were ready to appeal. After Judge Donald  Oda II ordered all exhibits to be admitted under seal Thursday, they had until 10 a.m. Friday to do so.

Richardson, 19, of Carlisle, is accused of killing and burying her baby last year. Her attorneys filed the motion asking the court to prohibit any testimony that would be protected by physician-patient confidentiality. 

Steven Knippen of the Warren County Prosecutor's Office explained the state's side.

"The state feels because (the defense) submitted the affidavits containing the potentially privileged information, the state should have the opportunity to cross-examine those doctors," Knippen said.

The state requested a continuance Thursday, but Oda denied it.

 "I think I have to cut this off at some point,” Oda said.  "I am going to go ahead and order that these documents be filed under seal. We agree that certainly some of them are going to come in."

But the defense also wants recorded statements from Richardson and an affidavit from Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell taken out.

One of Richardson’s attorneys, Charles H. Rittgers, warned that could mean an appeal and a long delay.

"Based on that order, one side or both sides ... have a right to go to directly to the court of appeals, which stops everything in progress," Rittgers said.

Ada acknowledged that, then asked Knippen and the other defense attorney, Charles R. Rittgers, for their prediction.

"My leanings on how this case might come out, it’s my understanding that one or both sides will appeal that,” Ada said.

Ada: "Is that right, Mr. Knippen?”

Knippen: “Yes, Your Honor."

Ada: “Mr. Rittgers?”

Charles R. Rittgers: “Yes, Judge.”

Ada: "If somebody files a notice of appeal, we're all in agreement that the trial for Monday is off, right?"

Knippen: “That's correct, Your Honor.

Charles R. Rittgers: "Yes, Judge."

Richardson faces charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.

Fornshell previously said he believed Richardson killed her baby because she and her mother would not have wanted other people to know she'd been pregnant and had a baby.