Brooke Skylar Richardson was able to walk out of court and go home Friday, but her parents said they were taking her to the emergency room first.
The 20-year-old, who has struggled with an eating disorder for years, weighs only 89 pounds and is losing her hair, according to her lawyers.
She was sentenced to seven days in jail after being convicted of gross abuse of a corpse, but the judge said since she had already spent seven days in jail she was free to go home.
Richardson, who remained mostly silent through her eight-day trial, spoke in court and repeatedly apologized.
"I am forever sorry," she said, and turned to the Johnson family and said, "I'm sorry."
She said she believes she's learned and grown in the past two years.
Her lawyers argued for her release for health reasons, saying she is still struggling with her eating disorder.
Her father asked of the judge: "Get her home soon so we can take care of her.”
Judge Donald Oda released Richardson, but not before telling her she acted with "grotesque disregard for life.” He said the law restricted the sentence he could pass down.
“In all of this mess that we have in this, what often gets overlooked is how precious life is,” Oda said. “It should be protected. It should be guarded."
Oda said he knew "in his heart" that the child would still be alive if Richardson had made better decisions.
"Some people are inclined to think to themselves, you know, 'this is America, we kill unborn babies every day,' but I don’t look at it that way," Oda said.
The Richardson family embraced after the sentence was read. Her parents shook as they hugged each other.
Judge Oda also ruled the remains of the baby be turned over to the Richardsons after he secured a promise from Scott Richardson that the burial would be proper and the site would be accessible to the family of the father, Trey Johnson.
Missing a granddaughter
Johnson's mother, Tracy Johnson, crying, spoke in court before the sentencing.
“Two years, four months and one week," she said. "That’s how old my granddaughter would be if she were here.”
She said that even though Richardson knew with certainty who the father was at the time of birth, her family discovered that information from a Facebook post nearly six months after her son took a DNA test.
She said her son is a "totally different person" and that she too has suffered, adding she can't even bring herself to hold babies anymore.
She told Judge Oda that Richardson was trying to deprive her family again by requesting the remains of "a baby she called 'it'” during police interviews.
Acquitted on a murder charge
A trembling and tearful Brooke Skylar Richardson was acquitted on murder and manslaughter charges Thursday in the death of her baby. The jury convicted her of gross abuse of a corpse, a felony.
Richardson, 20, was accused of killing her newborn daughter after giving birth to her at her home in 2017 when she was a senior in high school. She told no one that night and buried the child she named Annabelle in her own backyard.
She was charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and gross abuse of a corpse.
She faced up to life in prison.
The three most serious charges hinged on prosecution convincing the jury Richardson gave birth to a live baby girl. It was on those charges the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict.
Richardson's defense maintained during the eight-day trial that Richardson had a stillbirth and panicked.
Gross abuse of a corpse falls into the lowest category of felony in Ohio.
The law reads: "No person, except as authorized by law, shall treat a human corpse in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities."
This January, a woman was convicted of the same charge in Hamilton County after her boyfriend died of a heroin overdose in a hotel room. She didn't report the death and kept the room for about 10 days before a motel employee discovered the body under a pile of clothes.
Gross abuse of a corpse carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, but Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda said Richardson's status as a first-time offender further limited the sentence he could hand down.