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Convicted killer Richardson shackled after shank found in his cell

Posted April 2, 2014
Updated April 3, 2014

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— A Superior Court judge in Johnston County on Wednesday ordered that Johnathan Douglas Richardson, who is facing a possible death sentence in the murder of 4-year-old Teghan Skiba, wear leg shackles for the remainder of his trial after a detention officer found a handmade knife in his jail cell.

Capt. James Gerrell with the Johnston County Jail testified that he found the shank – a fingernail file attached to a toothbrush – in the 25-year-old's cell Wednesday morning after another inmate alerted a detention officer.

Judge Thomas Lock ordered that Richardson wear the shackles "to prevent the defendant's escape and ensure safety of court personnel." Richardson was found guilty March 25 of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense of a child and felony child abuse in Teghan's July 19, 2010, death.

Jurors who will decide on Richardson's punishment were not present for Gerrell's testimony, and Lock ordered that the shackles not be visible to the jury. He also said Richardson should not be handcuffed.

Lock then asked Richardson if there was anything he wanted to say.

Richardson stood and replied, "I'd like to see it on camera" – possibly referring to security video of his cell.

Documents presented in court Tuesday detailed numerous behavioral problems with Richardson during his incarceration, including accusations that he incited inmates and threatened to stab a detention officer.

After hearing about the shank Wednesday, prosecutors asked Lock that Richardson be shackled.

"We'd ask the court impose some restrictions," Assistant District Attorney Greg Butler said. "As personnel, we're concerned for our safety."

The lengthy trial is nearing an end with closing arguments in the sentencing phase set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The state rested Wednesday morning, after calling three witnesses in an effort to refute the defense's portrayal of Richardson as a mentally damaged man who was abused by his father.

It was Richardson's experiences of being improperly disciplined, the defense has said, that caused him to believe that the physical abuse he inflicted upon Teghan while her mother – his girlfriend at the time – was out of town was OK.

Her death, the defense has said, was the result of uncontrolled anger and was not intentional.

Sandy Penny, the longtime live-in girlfriend of Richardson's father, Douglas Richardson, testified that she never saw any signs of abuse and that although Douglas Richardson disciplined his son, he was never abusive.

"He did spank him, but I can tell you – I can count on one hand how many times he spanked him," Penny said. "I mean, we all get angry and raise our voice, but he is not an angry man. He's a very loving, fun man. He was a good dad, and they had a good father-son relationship."


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  • bmac813 Apr 3, 2014

    I wonder where he got the Shank????????? OR WHO Gave it to him???

  • Lightfoot3 Apr 3, 2014

    "Life in prison would be better served than death. That would be too easy for him." - 678devilish

    While I agree with your statement, at least from his point of view, I still support the death penalty. Well, I agree with the principle of death penalty, if it was administered the way it should be.

    "Of course Blanche Taylor Moore much older and looking good is still on death row; well and alive." - 678devilish

    Yep. Over TWENTY-THREE YEARS on death row. That's a shame and disgrace.

  • 678devilish Apr 3, 2014

    Prison is not an easy. It is a hard life. But by no choice, he will adjust. He will not ever have the life style he was used to. That is gone forever.

  • 678devilish Apr 3, 2014

    He needs to pay dearly for what he has done.

    So you think two wrongs will make a right? But regardless it will not happen. So get that out of your mind.

  • Teresa Engel Apr 3, 2014
    user avatar

    I would say just sidestep all appeals and give him the needle. But the needle is too good for him. Shackle him, and let him be tortured exactly the same way he tortured that little girl. After he screams for mercy for a long while, then do it some more. He needs to pay dearly for what he has done.

  • 678devilish Apr 3, 2014

    Life in prison would be better served than death. That would be too easy for him. Of course Blanche Taylor Moore much older and looking good is still on death row; well and alive.

  • 678devilish Apr 3, 2014

    Posted by Lightfoot3

    You have made a very enlighten comment. I just wish people would get it. While they are judging this young man, just wondering who is judging them? Also, just curious as how many skeltons are really in their closets? Somebody knows. So lets stop the judging. We all know he is going to prison and will never freely walk this side of the fence freely ever again. He is just one off the streets.

  • 678devilish Apr 3, 2014

    This shows his guilt. He could not stand being on death row, or just being in prison. May justice really be served in this case. The young child deserves that much and more.

  • Jessica McDougald Apr 3, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    This wont be popular meaning people (like you have just proven) won't appreciate my comment. Yours doesn't change my opinion. Thanks for the input!

  • JEIAKC Apr 3, 2014

    Okay, couple of things to clarify some questions.
    He can buy a fingernail file from canteen. He was not an inmate until found guilty so he is afforded basic rights and NC does a good job of trying to balance basic rights versus lawsuits for being denied basic rights. Will he have a hard time in prison? Yes. Will he be killed? Doubt it. NC would punish the doer of this. He will be in solitary for a while until they can find a 'safe' place to house him. He will also have the option of staying in a confined / controlled area if he fears for his safety. Whether or not you agree with the reasoning, NC is one of the safer prison systems due to their past reputation and they try to protect their inmates, no matter the crime.