Hello, and welcome to True Crime Rocket Science.
Brooke Skylar Richardson.
Blonde, blue-eyed, 20-years-old, charged in 2017 for the death of her baby daughter Annabelle. Skylar was 17 when she gave birth at midnight, in her bathroom at her parents’ home in Carlisle, on May 7th, just two days after her high school prom.
After giving birth Skylar buried the newborn’s body in the family backyard. On July 17th, shortly after going to a clinic to get birth control pills, the remains were found by detectives.
DNA matched Skylar as the mother, and Trey Johnson, a former ex-boyfriend, as the father. Johnson would be the first witness during the trial that finally started on September 4th, and eventually concluded on September 9th, 2019. A jury comprising seven men and five women acquitted Skylar on most but not quite all charges.
The image of Brooke Skylar Richardson in court, awaiting verdict and sentencing was my introduction to this case. I knew virtually nothing about the case until the judge read the charges, and all there was to go on besides that was the fragile-looking Skylar, initially responding to “not guilty” with no emotions, and then – fingers trembling in front of her face – Skylar appeared to break down in tears.
In an episode posted yesterday on Chris Watts’ affect, we saw how tricky it is to base the entirety of our knowledge of a person, on first impressions, and on optics, such as these. Personally, when I watched and listened to the charges being read, and I looked at the young girl’s face, I felt a strong sense of sympathy sweeping over me, and I hoped Skylar would not be convicted. When she wasn’t, I was happy for her.
That’s justice right? It feels right, it must be right? We should measure the legalities with our hearts, not our heads, right?
On the True Crime Rocket Science Facebook page, right now, there is a particular individual venting, grandstanding, and making as loud a noise as possible in sympathy with Skylar. It’s understandable if our information is limited to just that snapshot of her facing the jury’s verdict in court.
But True Crime Rocket Science requires that we get ourselves up to speed with as much information as we can, starting – in this instance – with Skylar herself. We have to get to know her, and her world, before we can make authentic or meaningful pronouncements.
So, for example, we learn that when Skylar found out she was pregnant, she also broke down in tears. When she got home, she researched online:
How to get rid of a baby.
This is a blog post, not a book, and clearly this subject on its own deserves hours of research if we are to do our due diligence. But we can pick up a few meaningful clues through thin-slicing. We see that on April 26th, 2017, Skylar asked her mother to make an appointment for her at Hilltop OBGYN so she could get birth control pills. That was when her doctor told her she was into her third trimester and would deliver a healthy baby within weeks. The doctor assessed the fetus as healthy, with a strong heart rate. This is important.
Through this snippet of information we see Skylar’s mother is – if not in control – then nevertheless a clear and active presence in her daughter’s life. We can also see that her mother knew about her daughter’s visit to the doctor, and one wonders how the doctor didn’t inform her mother of her young 17-year-old daughter’s situation.
A medical assistant who checked Skylar in, also said Skylar acted very nervous. The idea that Skylar didn’t know she was pregnant, far into her third trimester, suggests someone who may not be who we perceive her to be at face value.
The fact that Skylar left the clinic repeating –
I can’t have this baby, I can’t tell anyone I’m pregnant
– also speaks of a powerful dynamic operating in Skylar’s life.
Trey testified that the two began seeing each other in 2016. They had sex twice, once unprotected. He added that Skylar never told him she was pregnant.
AGE AND SOCIAL SITUATION
Skylar gave birth after high school and prior to starting college.
1. Judge’s Comments – he disagreed with the jury’s verdict
2. Is Skylar Guilty of a Crime? From Fox19:
3. Red Flags4. False Confession?
5. Before and After – Premeditation, Postmeditation
1. Skylar didn’t take the stand in her own defense – neither did Casey Anthony.
2. From the remains, it does appear that the corpse was burned. It was buried in the backyard adjacent to a barbecue pit. It seems unlikely that the remains would skeletonize entirely between May 7th and July 14th.
3. Annabelle was born prematurely, and the birth induced, but was likely not stillborn.
4. The question of whether another family member may have been an accessory to these events is relevant to this case, given the location of the crime scene.
5. Skylar was fortunate to get off as lightly as she did. The jury may view this as a late abortion, but technically, if she gave birth to a viable fetus and then bludgeoned the infant to death, it qualifies as first-degree murder after deliberation, and also obstruction of justice.
“Skylar and her family, particularly her mother, were pretty obsessed with external appearances and how things appeared to the outside world,” he said. “You have a situation where, you know, she’s a cute high school, recent high school graduate; she was a cheerleader described (as) a good girl by her lawyer as you heard after the arraignment.” Her parents and friends have said she hid the pregnancy from them.
“I can sometimes be selfish, but I would like to think that I’ve become better in the knowledge that I’ve upset everyone and hurt so many people with what I’ve done.”
Narcissism vs Sympathy
Prosecutors contended that the high school cheerleader wanted to keep her “perfect life” – Time
…a Warren County judge told her she showed a “grotesque disregard for life”…
“‘Broken,’ ‘shattered,’ ‘destroyed,'” she said. “None of them seem to fit the amount of pain I have felt ever since we found out that not only did I lose my first grandchild, but my baby — who I would lay down my life for without a thought — lost his first child, and Skylar had no intention of letting us know.”