Local News

Trauma doc details Teghan Skiba's injuries for jury

Posted February 28, 2014
Updated March 5, 2014

— 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.


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  • Dreamer707 Mar 6, 2014

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    Real father was in prison for two years for drug trafficking. It all starts with him. He gets busted, he and Helen broke up, causing Helen to take Teghan and move out of the paternal grandparents house (they were the only hope she ever had) and out of spite cuts off contact with them. They tried relentlessly to see the granddaughter who had lived with them for three and a half years. Helen didn't answer thier calls and even had her sister (when the grandparents called her looking for helen) to lie and say she was not going to military training and that they didn't need to worry where teghan was because it had been canceled. They were never aware of any abuse as this was a new boyfriend and they never saw any evidence of it.

  • brandy213122 Mar 4, 2014

    The grandmother testified yesterday and in her own words, she said she was afraid of him herself. She knew what he was capable of and what he could do and still did nothing to help this little girl.

  • brandy213122 Mar 4, 2014

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    Will you still defend them when the "grandmother" said she knew what kind of living arrangement the girl was in but still wouldn't call the authorities because she didn't want the child taken? Will you still defend them because they saw the child had a black eye, knew what their grandson was capable of and still DID NOTHING?? Continue to defend these "fine" people who had chance after chance to save this little girl's life but felt it was more important to say and do nothing.

  • lissad821 Mar 3, 2014

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    Especially since during her testimony today she stated she hadn't seen the little girl but went to the shed and heard JR tell Teghan don't go to the door. C'mon now really?? If you were scared of your grandson would you really let a 4 yr old stay with him in a shed....behind your house? Sorry but the grandparents and mother should be charged. The mom with murder. I just can't with this case. And then people come on here and defend the grandparents??

  • skimchai Mar 3, 2014

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    Helen (Teghan's mother) had many places she could have left her child while she "went to better herself". I remember back when it happened that both her mother and Teghan's paternal grandparents were willing to care for Teghan. She has no excuse for leaving her with a man who had already abused her, when she knew her daughter would be locked in a shed and sleeping on a dirty air mattress with a man who was not her father. Helen is a sorry excuse for a mother and I think she should be charged with murder as well. If Amanda Hayes can get 2nd degree for her part in Laura Ackerman's death, so should Helen. The whole ordeal is disgusting. I hope Richardson gets the death penalty and that all appeals are exhausted quickly. I also feel the grandparents should be charged. Look at the google map of the property - unless the grandparents are deaf and blind, they had to have seen and heard what was happening. They chose to ignore it.

  • Alexia Proper Feb 28, 2014
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    Water can be easily obtained. Just because there was no running water does not mean the mother is evil. Perhaps she's poor and this was the best she could do. Better than the street, for sure.

    Really, people should not be taking shots at the mother who went off for military training in an effort to better her and her daughter's life until you hear her side of things.

  • sunshine1040 Feb 28, 2014

    Just which parent did they do a great job of raising The Mother that left her child with this monster or the boyfriend that abuse the child. I am sorry but who leaves a child to be raised in a storage shed with no water.

  • teacher56 Feb 28, 2014

    I have many questions that may or may not become clearer as this trial progresses. How can grandparents let their grandchild live in a storage shed? How could they not have an idea that something was amiss? So many children are abused by mothers boyfriends. Women, wake up and put your kids first, not your relationship!

  • stymieindurham Feb 28, 2014

    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 . . . . .

    What a bunch of "horse hooie". Can't wait for Bubba to meet him and find out he's a child molester.

  • jetset Feb 28, 2014

    I will still defend these grandparents. They are fine people and it also sounds judgmental to blame grandparents ( " they did a bangup job raising one of the parents" ). Trust me, they are fine people. The grandmother was sick to her stomach when she found out what had happened. She had no idea this was going on.