Jury gets closer look at evidence in case of tortured child
Posted February 27, 2014
Smithfield, N.C. — Jurors watched intently – some leaning forward in their seats – Thursday as they saw crime scene video of the 15-foot-by 13-foot shed where Johnston County prosecutors say a Smithfield man physically and sexually abused his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter before the child died.
Testifying for a second day in Jonathan Douglas Richardson's capital murder trial, Charlotte Fournier, a former crime scene investigator for the Johnston County Sheriff's Department, said she initially seized 196 items from the cluttered and dirty shed where Teghan Skiba spent 10 of her last 13 days alive.
More evidence was later collected in the case.
The state on Thursday morning also started the process of showing the jury of seven women and five men that evidence – everything from men's boxers to baby clothing to the pink Gap T-shirt and black pants Teghan was wearing when Richardson took her to Johnston Memorial Hospital on July 16, 2010.
Teghan died three days later.
An autopsy found the child died from blunt force head injuries and that her less-than-40-pound body had signs of sexual assault as well as dozens of bite marks, bruises and cuts.
Although prosecutors say Richardson – charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse, sexual offense with a child and kidnapping – tormented, terrorized and tortured the young girl, defense attorneys trying to keep their client from facing the death penalty contend otherwise.
Richardson, 25, never sexually abused Teghan and didn't mean to kill her, they say. He lacked experience and parenting skills, and they blame her death on his undiagnosed mental problems, his own experiences of being abused as a child and approval from Teghan's mother, Helen Reyes, that physically abusing the child was OK.
Jurors saw 60 pieces of physical evidence on Thursday, and Fournier is expected to return to the stand Monday.