Things That Matter

An Ohio Cheerleader Is Only Going To Get Three Years Of Probation For Killing Her Newborn Daughter

A young woman accused of killing her newborn baby and burying her in the backyard of her family’s Ohio home two years ago was found not guilty of murder, USA Today reports. On Thursday, 20-year-old Brooke Skylar Richardson was acquitted of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter for the May 2017 death of her daughter. The former cheerleader was instead found guilty of abuse of a corpse and sentenced to seven days in jail and three years probation. 

However, the judge said that Richardson, who was behind bars for most of her eight-day trial, was free to go home for time served.

The young woman, who said she had learned and grown over the past two years, was mostly silent throughout her trial, with the exception of her repeated apologies.

“I am forever sorry,” she said. Moments later, she turned to the late baby’s father’s family adding, “I’m sorry.”

In July 2017, when Richardson was a senior in high school, she was accused of killing and burying her newborn baby days after her prom. Prosecutors allege she did not want to be an 18-year-old single mom. They pointed to circumstances like Richardson not returning for an ultrasound, bloodwork or any other treatment weeks after learning of her pregnancy and ignoring calls from the doctor and assistants. She also told police that she looked into an abortion, but it was too late to have one. However, she has adamantly denied that she administered an abortion on herself.

Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen said in court that days after the baby’s death Richardson sent two text messages bragging about her weight loss.

“Shortly, after murdering her daughter and placing her daughter in the dirt, and not even having the decency to cover it with a blanket, she sent two elated text messages: My belly is back, my belly is back,” Knippen said, as reported by NBC News. According to Richardson’s attorneys, the baby was stillborn, meaning she did not meet the legal criteria to be considered a child. They allege that the young woman, scared, buried her baby, who she named Annabelle, in her backyard.

The baby’s remains weren’t found until two months after the birth. During a news conference on Thursday, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said it’s still unclear how the newborn was killed because of decomposition.

“Brooke Richardson created the situation that prevented us from being able to conduct an autopsy on that baby girl,” he said. He added that he was “absolutely convinced she caused the death” of the child.

Richardson was up against charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

 After deliberating for four hours and 25 minutes, the jury found her guilty of only gross abuse of a corpse. Judge Donald Oda released Richardson but informed her that she had acted with “grotesque disregard for life.” 

“In all of this mess that we have in this, what often gets overlooked is how precious life is. It should be protected. It should be guarded,” Oda said, adding that the law restricted the sentence he could pass down. Oda also ruled the baby’s remains would be turned over to the Richardsons after the young woman’s father, Scott Richardson, promised to give the late infant a proper burial that would also be accessible to the family of the baby’s father, Trey Johnson.

The past couple of years have been emotional for the relatives involved as well. 

Before the sentencing, Johnson’s mother, Tracy Johnson, spoke in court. 

“Two years, four months and one week,” she said through tears. “That’s how old my granddaughter would be if she were here.” Tracy, who noted that the experience has made it difficult for her to hold babies anymore, also said that her son is a “totally different person” now. “I’ve watched my son become a different person,” Johnson said, according to PEOPLE. “I won’t disclose his medical diagnosis because she’s done enough to him.  I can personally tell you that I’ve personally been seen for depression, panic attacks, and I’m a shell of the person I was.”

She also said that while Richardson knew that Johnson, the young woman’s ex-boyfriend, was her baby’s father, that the Johnson family wasn’t aware until six months after her son took a DNA test.

“I would have taken her in with Trey without a question,” Tracy said. “Now, instead, every May 7, I don’t get to have a birthday party for my first grandchild. Instead, I send her balloons to heaven, to tell her how much her daddy loved her, and how much I loved her.”

Before the sentencing, Richardson’s father also addressed the court and discussed his daughter’s own mental health. 

“My daughter is suffering from an eating disorder and we are concerned about her health,” he said, asking for Richardson to be released. Richardson is currently free but on probation. If she violates her probation, she can spend up to a year in jail. When she completes her three-year sentence, she could be eligible to remove the charges from her criminal record.

Read: A 23-Year-Old Latina And Her Baby Died During Labor, Now Her Parents Are Suing Her OBGYN

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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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