Trauma doc details Teghan Skiba's injuries for jury
Posted February 28
Updated March 5
Smithfield, N.C. — When Teghan Skiba arrived at North Carolina Children's Hospital in July 2010, she was "minutes away from dying" a doctor who treated the 4-year-old said Friday in the murder trial of Jonathan Douglas Richardson.
Richardson first took Teghan to Johnston Memorial Hospital on July 16, 2010, claiming she hit her head while jumping on the bed. Doctors and nurses there determined she needed more intensive care and had her transferred to UNC Hospitals, where Dr. Keith Kocis was among those who cared for her until her death.
"She was so critically ill, so people were acting very, very quickly," Kocis, a specialist in critical pediatric care, told the court.
Kocis recalled how his "red-trauma pager" sounded on a Friday afternoon.
"There was essentially no part of her body that was spared. That is something I had never seen in my over 25 years," he said, describing bite marks, whip marks, lesions, scabs and scars as jurors looked at images of Teghan projected on a big screen.
Kocis said he knew even if his team could save her life, Teghan, who had a blood clot in her brain, would have suffered severe impairments.
Teghan died July 19, 2010. An autopsy pinpointed the cause of death as bleeding in her skull from blunt force head injuries. The medical examiner's report said the girl had suffered extensive abuse.
Richardson is charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse, sexual offense with a child and kidnapping, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.
His defense lawyers say Richardson, 25, was left to care for Teghan when her mother, Helen Reyes, went to train with the military.
In laying out their case, Richardson's lawyers said he lacked experience and parenting skills, and they blame Teghan's death on Richardson's undiagnosed mental problems, his own experiences of being abused as a child and approval from Reyes, his girlfriend, that physically abusing the child was OK.
Richardson and Teghan were living in a shed on a Smithfield property owned by his grandparents. On Wednesday, jurors heard that the 15 x 13 building was filled with alcohol containers, partially eaten food, scattered clothing, urine and feces. Richardson's grandmother, Helen Creech, took the stand late Friday afternoon and told the jury that his behavior as a child was not abnormal.