Cheerleader accused of killing, burying baby in yard blames personality disorder

Cheerleader accused of killing, burying baby in yard blames personality disorder

Brooke Skylar Richardson’s personality disorder is much like the song that encourages, “Smile, even though your heart is breaking”, according to a psychologist who assessed her.

Dr Stuart Bassman said the former high school cheerleader accused of killing her newborn baby girl and burying her in the backyard just days after her school formal had a dependent personality disorder which made her so fearful of rejection and abandonment that she tended to act like she was happy when she wasn’t.

The psychologist testified on day two of the defence testimony that the disorder predisposes Ms Richardson to submit to people in authority, and that allowed police to manipulate her into making incriminating statements she knew weren’t true.

RELATED: Photos of cheerleader in bikini just weeks before she secretly gave birth

Ms Richardson, 20, has denied murdering her child, a girl she named Annabelle, when she was 17 and told a court in Ohio, US, she gave birth to a stillborn baby in secret in the middle of the night while her parents were sleeping.

Prosecutors, however, allege she killed the baby in May 2017 in horrific circumstances, allegedly crushing the little girl’s skull, setting her on fire and burying the body in her backyard.

Dr Bassman also told the court on Wednesday that Richardson was sexually abused as a child.

He said she been vulnerable to being taken advantage of since she was 12 years old, when a boy she “looked up to” sexually abused her.

“Skylar shared with me, when she was 12 or so, she was having insecurity about her appearance, whether she would be liked, whether she would be accepted, typical behaviour … so a boy started showing her attention, a boy that Skylar looked up to, who Skylar admired,” he said.

“She began to respond, and then he began to abuse her. He began to abuse her sexually.”

Dr Bassman told the court Ms Richardson had a difficult time confronting those in authority and it was sad to watch a video of the “defenceless” young woman telling police interviewers she heard the baby making sounds and burned her with a lighter.

“She has a very difficult time speaking up for herself,” he said.

“What’s most sad about this is Skylar, because of her personality disorder, is not able to protect herself. She was not able to defend herself.”

He labelled her second interrogation with investigators from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office a clear case of intimidation.

Ms Richardson’s defence argued her mother Kim was partly to blame for Brooke not noticing she was pregnant.

They said Kim was focused on her daughter’s appearance which caused her to have an eating disorder.

But the prosecution argued her mum’s obsession with the way things looked encouraged a similar obsession in Brooke, and it was the fear of shame that drove her to kill the baby.

Previously, the jury was shown the video footage from Ms Richardson’s first police interrogation, where the teen broke down as she admitted she “never meant to hurt her”.

The video evidence showed her insisting she did not kill the infant.

Retired Lieutenant John Faine, who interviewed the girl, asked her what made her think she might be pregnant.

“I was really big. I was pretty big,” she responded.

“OK, you were getting a belly. Could you feel your baby?”

“Oh you … you could feel it.”

Ms Richardson said she didn’t sleep the night of May 7, because she had sharp cramps and pains in her lower back.

In the footage, she is seen weeping as she recalls giving birth in her bathroom. She claims the baby fell out of her while she was on the toilet and wasn’t breathing when she was born.

She said the newborn didn’t have a heartbeat and wasn’t making any noise. She said she couldn’t remember if the baby had an umbilical cord.

“I didn’t kill her though,” Ms Richardson said through tears. She said she had to bury the newborn because she “couldn’t tell anybody”.

“Is that really bad … I didn’t mean any harm to her. Are you going to put me in jail because of that?” Ms Richardson asked.

Closing arguments are scheduled to start on Thursday.

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