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'I loved her to death,' Teghan Skiba's alleged killer says in police video

Posted March 19

— Defense attorneys for Jonathan Richardson attempted Wednesday to use a video of the 25-year-old to help show his mental state at the time of his arrest nearly four years ago in the murder case of Teghan Skiba.

But Superior Court Judge Thomas Lock refused to admit it into evidence for jurors, who spent the last 17 days of testimony hearing about the 4-year-old's injuries and how prosecutors say Richardson tormented, tortured and terrorized the girl for 10 days in a shed behind his grandparents' Smithfield home in July 2010.

Richardson faces charges of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping and sexual offense with a child. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

His attorneys say Teghan's death was not intentional but was partly the result of undiagnosed mental problems and physical abuse Richardson suffered as a child.

The July 16, 2010 video, played outside the presence of the jury, was taken in an interrogation room at the Johnston County Sheriff's Office after Richardson was taken into custody.

It was the same day he took the child, unconscious and near death, to a local emergency room.

In the video, a tearful Richardson is on his cellphone talking to Teghan's mother and his girlfriend of 6 months – Helen Reyes – about how much he adored the child.

Reyes had been out of town for Army Reserve training and left her daughter in Richardson's care.

"I wanted to have kids with you when you got home, because I loved being around her so much," Richardson cries. "I loved her to death, Helen. I do, and I would never intentionally hurt her."

He goes on to say he wanted to raise a family and be a good father to Teghan.

"She's never had a father, and the way she's warmed up to me, she loves me so much," he said.

Richardson continues, saying he popped Teghan on the leg for misbehaving and was surprised when detectives told him she had broken bones.

Doctors testified the child also had more than 60 bite marks covering her body, as well as abrasions and bruises too numerous to count and injuries consistent with sexual abuse. Her death on July 19, 2010, was the result of head trauma.

Richardson, in the video, also talks about needing help.

"You know my mind is messed up, don't you?" he asked Reyes. "You even said."

Sobbing, he tells Reyes that it was all an accident.

"Helen, I just want to tell you that I didn't mean to do it, and I didn't hurt her head," he said.

But Lock ruled the phone conversation was hearsay because the full conversation between Richardson and Reyes couldn't be heard.

Jurors ended up not seeing the video.

But they did see one on Tuesday – a 37-second video from the prosecution of the child in distress and facing a wall with her bruised arms stretched out by her side.

Repeating a half-dozen times, she cries: "When I have to pee, I promise I will tell someone."

"Speak up," Richardson yells.

Teghan repeats the phrase four more times before the video ends.

It was the last image of her conscious and alive, the state contends.

20 Comments

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  • walkindogs Mar 20, 5:48 p.m.

    I don't want to hear about how bad HIS childhood was.....it was no where close to being as horrible as Teghan's.

  • NC Reader Mar 20, 2:05 p.m.

    Carolina -- Thank you for expanding on this. Every boy and girl should be taught growing up that love NEVER involves abuse, no matter what anyone says.

  • carrboroyouth Mar 20, 1:44 p.m.

    Again, why are we wasting tax payers money on this thing?

    — Posted by alwaysconcernedmom

    On the trial? Because we have a constitutional right to have a trial ....

  • nagreene Mar 20, 12:48 p.m.

    The mother knew better as well. Some women will allow anything to happen to them or their child(ren) just to say, "I have a man". I am sure their were signs of abuse on this child before the mother went to training and/or she, (the mother) seen him act strange around this child before. I am really upset about this story but I am more upset with the mother because she left the child knowing that this man was mentally unstable (so he says) of watching this child. #upsetting

  • vsusu2002 Mar 20, 12:37 p.m.

    This case makes me angry. When it comes on television, I turn from it for awhile. If the mom knew he was "messed up", why leave the child with him? I know he probably will not get the death penalty (that's NC for ya'), but I truly hope he spends the rest of his life in prison. This child suffered because of her mother and her boyfriend. Women & Men, please be careful who you leave your child(ren) with. Then to say "I loved her to death" just.....never mind. #RestTeghan

  • Carolina Mar 20, 12:28 p.m.

    How dare he use the word "love". Anyone who would do these horrible things is not capable of... View More

    — Posted by NC Reader

    This is scarier than hate. You see cases all the time where someone does something horrific, and then claims that they're doing it out of love: the abusive spouse who threatens to murder their partner if they leave, the mother who drowns her children in the tub, the parent who lets their teenagers get away with drug use and crime and gets enraged when anyone tries to make them be accountable. I've even listened to an interview with an Animal Control officer who says it's a HUGE red flag when they find an animal near death from neglect and the owner swears they love their pet. In all of these cases "love" becomes their defense. Just substitute the word "own" for "love", and you can see their real reason for the way they behave, and why they think they can get away with it.

  • bdu4dals2 Mar 20, 11:43 a.m.

    The problem with our legal system is statements like "Could face the death penalty". Change that to WILL, then you have something. I know the law says everyone gets a defense, but how does a defense lawyer after seeing what this animal did, go home to his wife and kids, look them in the eye and say I got it pleaded down to a lesser charge?

  • zoso62 Mar 20, 11:31 a.m.

    Put him and the mother in jail forever please.

  • Itsmyopinion67 Mar 20, 11:30 a.m.

    Forget this guy...fix the death penalty in NC and put him first on the list!

  • alwaysconcernedmom Mar 20, 11:17 a.m.

    Again, why are we wasting tax payers money on this thing?

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