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Former cheerleader acquitted of killing newborn

Richardson began crying as verdicts were being read.

Warren County Judge Donald Oda II scheduled sentencing for 11am on Friday, US time, on the abuse of a corpse charge. It carries a potential sentence of up to one year in prison, but as a first-time offender, she could get probation.

Brooke "Skylar" Richardson, right, talks to attorney Charles H. Rittgers in the courtroom before closing arguments.

Brooke “Skylar” Richardson, right, talks to attorney Charles H. Rittgers in the courtroom before closing arguments.Credit:AP

Prosecutors contended that the high school cheerleader wanted to keep her “perfect life.” They said she hid her unwanted pregnancy and buried her baby in her family’s backyard in May 2017, within days of her senior prom.

Her defence said the baby she named “Annabelle” was stillborn and that the teen was sad and scared.

The remains were found in July 2017 in Carlisle, a village about 64 kilometres north of Cincinnati.

Richardson faced life in prison if she had been convicted.

A forensic pathologist testified for the prosecution that she concluded the baby died from “homicidal violence.”

Prosecutors said Richardson had searched on the internet for “how to get rid of a baby.” They played video for the jury of a police interview in which Richardson said the baby might have moved and made noises.

Cincinnati psychologist Stuart Bassman said “Skylar was being manipulated” into making false statements during interrogations.

He described Richardson as a vulnerable, immature person whose dependent personality disorder makes her want to please authority figures, even to the point of making incriminating statements that were untrue.

Julie Kraft, an assistant prosecutor, suggested that besides wanting to please authorities, Richardson’s desire to please her family and boyfriend and fear of them abandoning her could have motivated her to commit extreme acts.

Her attorneys had had twice asked to move the trial, citing intense publicity they said was fuelled by the prosecution. But Oda II denied their motions.

The trial drew daily coverage from Court TV and at least two national TV network newsmagazines planned stories on it.

The case had divided people in her village of some 5000 people, with Facebook pages devoted to it and some critics trying to record the Richardson family’s comings and goings to post on social media.

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