Brooke Skylar Richardson, the former high school cheerleader who once faced the potential of life in prison, is home with her family and planning to go to college. Last fall, the now-21-year-old Ohio woman was acquitted of charges of aggravated murder of her baby.
Turning down the prosecution's offer proved to be a good In April 2017, Richardson, who suffered from an eating disorder, learned she was pregnant from her OB-GYN and told no one. Then, on May 7, 2017, less than 48 hours after her high school prom, she gave birth to a daughter in her home, still telling no one. In July 2017, she visited her OB-GYN, and told the doctors her baby was stillborn, and that she buried the body in the backyard of the family home. The doctors notified authorities and the 18-year-old Richardson was interrogated by police without a lawyer. She was charged with a number of counts, including aggravated murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
In July 2019, the prosecutors approached Richardson's lawyers, Charles H. Rittgers and his son, Charles M. Rittgers, with an offer of a plea deal that would have dropped the aggravated murder charge but would have still sent Richardson to prison.
"The prosecutor told Charlie, I will take aggravated murder off if you plea to the rest of them, which still could have been 15 years," Skylar's father, Scott Richardson tells "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty in an interview for "The Case Against Brooke Skylar Richardson," airing Saturday, May 23 at 10/9c on CBS.
Faced with the possibility of life without parole, the Richardsons knew they had a terrible dilemma. But in the end, they believed the decision was Skylar's to make.
"It was a Sunday morning and she woke up – and I can still see her sitting on the couch," says Kim Richardson, Skylar's mother. "And she goes, I'm not going to plea to something I didn't do. And in my heart I got sick – but it has to be her decision. End of day, she has to live with this."
The decision to turn down the offer was tough on Richardson's attorneys, too.
"It's quite a burden," says attorney Charles H. Rittgers. "There is no way that she would harm her baby. No way."
Turning down the prosecution's offer proved to be a good decision. On September 12, 2019, jurors acquitted Skylar Richardson
of the most serious charges, including aggravated murder.
Skylar Richardson still struggles with an eating disorder and is receiving treatment, but is planning on attending college in Kentucky this fall.