Things That Matter

Brooke Skylar Richardson, The Former High School Cheerleader From Ohio Who Buried Her Newborn, Has Been Acquitted

Brooke Skylar Richardson was charged with killing her newborn daughter and burying her in the backyard of her parent’s home. The 20-year-old from Ohio was found not guilty of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter. 

Richardson was, however, convicted for abuse of a corpse and sentenced to three years probation. After completing the three years she could potentially have the conviction expunged from her record. 

The unsettling story about the Ohio cheerleader, who according to prosecutors, executed her baby and covered it up as not to “ruin her perfect life,” gripped the media, garnering national attention in 2017. 

Brooke Skylar Richardson is accused of burning her baby alive. 

According to the Daily Beast, Richardson discovered she was pregnant in April 2017 while visiting the gynecologist to receive birth control for the first time. The 18-year-old kept the news that she was 32 weeks pregnant a secret. On her senior prom night, Richardson gave birth in the family bathroom. 

This is where dueling narratives occur. Richardson says her child was a stillbirth. Horrified, she dug a shallow grave in her backyard and buried the daughter she named Annabelle. The prosecutors claimed Richardson killed her baby, burned her body and then buried her because she didn’t want to give up her perfect life. 

“Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen said in court that days after the baby’s death Richardson sent two text messages bragging about her [thinner] appearance,” according to NBC News.

However, the death only came to law enforcement’s attention because of Richardson’s own confession. When her gynecologist pressed her about the pregnancy, she told him about the stillbirth. The doctor reported her to the police for possible child abuse. 

“My biggest regret is not having the strength to tell someone that I was pregnant. I wish I would have done it differently,” Richardson told Cosmopolitan. “I’m plagued by guilt every day for not telling someone.”

Richardson claims the police coerced a confession out of her.

According to Richardson’s defense team, police questioned her for hours until she confessed to trying to cremate the remains of her baby.

Richardson would spend the next couple of years enduring a grueling trial where she endured bullying and harassment from members of her community that labeled her a “baby killer.” 

Despite a seemingly national smear campaign, a jury of seven women and five men found her not guilty after an eight-day trial in September. They found there was no evidence she burned her baby.

However, prosecutors remain certain that Richardson murdered Annabelle. They believe she has a personality disorder because she was sexually abused when she was 12 and that during her police interview, Richardson claimed she heard the baby making sounds and burned it with a lighter. 

“I understand why the jury did what they did. I get it. But, I do believe she killed her child. As I sit here today, I believe it. I understand there are proof issues,” prosecutor David Fornshell told Local 12. “The fact that she meets 15 out of the 15 criteria for neonaticide to just walk away, you know what, we’re not going to try. That’s not who we are.”

Richardson speaks out for the first time since being acquitted. 

Cosmopolitan published an interview with Richardson, where she spoke out about the ordeal for the first time. 

“I spent a lot of my time depressed,” Richardson said of the past two years. “Every night, I would lie down and wish that I could have died in place of Annabelle.”

When news spread about the criminal charges, most of Richardson’s friends abandoned her. Her community turned on her, many of whom would leak information to the press by snapping photos of her in her home. Others devoted Facebook groups to the trial where they would share conspiracy theories and say things like “burn Skylar alive.” 

“It was so hard to live knowing the truth but to have the whole world think otherwise,” she said. “The people out there who hate me so much and wish horrible things upon me also do not know me.”

Richardson deactivated social media and took up new hobbies like reading, cooking knitting, and doing her makeup every day even if she scarcely left the house. In the end, she kept at least one good friend.

“These things just happen—babies are stillborn— women shouldn’t be blamed for that,” Ashley, an old friend from middle school told Cosmopolitan. “It’s sickening what they have done to her. I just try to keep it as normal as possible and be there for her as a friend.” Another longtime friend says Skylar told her that she “misses her baby.”

Richardson told Cosmo that she didn’t take a plea deal, which reduced her charges from a life sentence to 15 years because she knew she wasn’t guilty. 

“I knew in my heart of hearts that I was innocent,” she said. In the end, a jury of her peers agreed. 

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Latina L.A. County Deputy Was Shot In The Face But Saved Her Partner’s Life After A Gunman Ambushed Them

Things That Matter

Latina L.A. County Deputy Was Shot In The Face But Saved Her Partner’s Life After A Gunman Ambushed Them

David McNew / Getty

A shooting that occurred over the weekend in Compton, California has sparked shock, alarm, and outrage.

The shooting occurred sometime around 7 p.m. on Saturday at MLK Transit Center in Compton. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the gunman made his way toward the passenger’s side of the deputies’ car and shot two deputies with a pistol without precedent.

One of the victims is a 31-year-old mother.

On Saturday, the sheriff’s department tweeted surveillance footage of the shooting which also captured the gunman fleeing the scene.

According to reports, the gunman fired into the deputies’ car without pretext.

“This is just a somber reminder that this is a dangerous job, and actions and words have consequences. Our job does not get any easier because people do not like law enforcement,” Alex Villanueva, the 33rd Sheriff of Los Angeles County, said in a statement. “It pisses me off. It dismays me at the same time.”

According to Villanueva, both of the deputies (Claudia Apolinar a 31-year-old mother and a 24-year-old man) were sworn in just 14 months ago and are in critical condition at the hospital. According to the sheriff’s department both are “fighting for their lives” but “it looks like they’re going to be able to recover.”

Apolinar and her partner were both shot at close range. Apolinar was shot in the face and torso and her partner sustained multiple gunshot wounds Seeing that he was in need of immediate medical treatment, Apolinar managed to make a tourniquet for him before medics arrived.

According to the New York Post, Apolinar is a former librarian who graduated from the academy last year.

“We’ll see what the long-term impact is. We don’t know that yet, but they survived the worst,” Villanueva explained.

Local officials have announced a $100,000 reward for information on the gunman and his whereabouts.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke out against the attack and condemned it in a statement calling “Acts of lawlessness and violence directed against police officers are unacceptable, outrageous, and entirely counterproductive to the pursuit of greater peace and justice in America — as are the actions of those who cheer such attacks on.”

Speaking about the incident, Democratic US Rep. Adam Schiff called the attack “cowardly.”

“Every day, law enforcement officers put themselves at risk to protect our community,” Schiff stated in a post shared to Twitter. “I hope the perpetrator of this cowardly attack can be quickly brought to justice.”

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Jussie Smollett Speaks Out For The First Time In Months About His Alleged 2019 Attack— ‘They Won’t Let This Go’

Entertainment

Jussie Smollett Speaks Out For The First Time In Months About His Alleged 2019 Attack— ‘They Won’t Let This Go’

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty

In early 2019, “Empire “actor Jussie Smollett found himself thrust into the public spotlight of scrutiny after it was reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime. His original claim initially prompted public outrage and a flood of support from fans. Then, nearly three weeks later, the public was shocked to learn that Smollett had been charged with disorderly conduct and the false filing of a police report after it was determined that the attack had been staged. Worse? Officials suspected that Smollett himself had choreographed the entire attack from start to finish. In March of 2019, the actor was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report that claimed two men attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him.

Since then, the charges against Smollett have been dropped but his reputation remains tarnished. The court of public opinion has determined that he is a liar and fabricator. Ultimately he was dropped from his role on his show and he has remained relatively silent about the issue.

Now, a year after the alleged attack Smollett is speaking out about the controversy in a rare interview.

On Wednesday, the actor made an appearance in an Instagram Live conversation with author and activist Marc Lamont Hill. During the interview, Smollett addressed his ongoing trial calling the situation “frustrating, to say the least.”

“It’s been beyond frustrating, and I certainly am not going rogue,” Smollett explained. “I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that, but I don’t really see, honestly, what staying quiet has really done, like, where it has gotten me. … It’s so much bigger than me.”

Smollett went onto share what the past year has done to him and shared that his legal team recently filed a motion against his indictment. The motion is set to be reviewed in court on Thursday. “I believe I have to give it up to God,” Smollett explained before adding that he thinks the legal motion will fall in his favor.

“They won’t let this go,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter — there is an example being made. And the sad part is that there’s an example being made of someone who did not do what they are being accused of.”

Addressing accusations that his original claims were all a hoax, Smollett said that “From the very, very beginning, it was set up to seem like I was lying about something or everything.”

Smollett claimed “there would be no reason for me to do this” and called the accusations “bulls—,” before adding that the “last thing” hew would ever want to do is “be portrayed as a victim.”

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