Forensic analysts can't ID substance on dead girl's pants as blood
Posted March 6, 2014
Smithfield, N.C. — A pair of pants and an electrical cord were the focus of testimony Thursday in the trial of a Johnston County man accused of torturing and killing 4-year-old Teghan Skiba almost four years ago.
Johnston County prosecutors say Jonathan Douglas Richardson – the boyfriend of Teghan's mother – tormented, tortured and terrorized the little girl for 10 days in July 2010 in a shed behind the Smithfield home of his grandparents while her mother was away attending training for the Army Reserves.
Richardson, 25, is charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping and sexual offense with a child and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Gina Autry, a former forensic technician for the State Crime Lab, told the jury that chemical tests indicated the presence of blood on Teghan's pants, which were found in the shed where Richardson was living. A torn electrical cord found in the shed also tested positive for blood, she said.
But Autry said there was no evidence of semen on Teghan's body or clothing.
Defense attorney Mike Klinkosum asked Autry if she could say with certainty that the substance on the clothes and the cord was blood. She replied that she couldn't, "only that there are chemical indications of blood or other substances."
Amy Brewer, a forensic analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation, said wire fragments were collected from Teghan's body, but testing couldn't match the fragments with the exposed wires from the electrical cord.
Prosecutors plan to end their case by showing jurors a video clip taken from Richardson's camera that includes Teghan's voice during the time she was allegedly abused.
On Thursday, Johnston County Sheriff's Office detective Don Pate testified about the video and photos removed from the camera and how he authenticated the images and made sure their time stamps were correct.
Klinkosum implied during his cross-examination of Pate that the camera's internal clock might have been altered, making the time stamps on the video and photos incorrect.
Defense attorneys say Richardson never sexually abused Teghan and didn't mean to kill her, but he lacked experience and parenting skills. They blame her death on his undiagnosed mental problems, his own experiences of being abused as a child and approval from Teghan's mother that physically abusing the child was OK.