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Doctors, nurses 'feverishly worked' to save tortured 4-year-old

Posted February 25
Updated February 26

— Doctors and nurses "feverishly worked" to save the life of 4-year-old Teghan Skiba when her mother's boyfriend took her to Johnston Memorial Hospital more than three years ago, claiming she hit her head while jumping on the bed.

Teghan Skiba Photos of Teghan Skiba

But Dr. Michael Evans, a physician on call when Teghan was brought to the emergency room on July 16, 2010, testified Tuesday in the capital murder trial of Jonathan Douglas Richardson that the child had a faint pulse, strained breathing, dilated eyes and was limp and lifeless.

"The main presentation was that I have a kid here that's been beaten badly, has a head injury and has a bunch of other marks on her, but right now, the problem is the large amount of blood in the brain," Evans said.

As medical workers treated Teghan, nurse Mary Butler – who had seen the more than 60 bite marks, cuts and bruises on the child's arms, legs, back and stomach – confronted Richardson as he abruptly tried to leave the ER waiting room.

"I just couldn't take anymore, and I looked at him and said, 'Oh my God,'" she said. "I took off after him, and I chased him down (the hall). I was running for everything I was worth."

Butler caught up with him and grabbed him from behind at the exit door.

"I caught him by the throat, and I slung him around and was pushing him for everything I was worth," she said, demonstrating on Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson.

She then directed Richardson to a room where he waited until authorities arrived. Fueled by anger and adrenaline, she asked them for a gun.

"I'm going to do what needs to be done, right here, right now," she recalled saying.

Doctors eventually decided to have Teghan transferred to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where she died three days later.

"She was not conscious. There was no consciousness about her," Johnston County sheriff's investigator Jamey Snipes testified. "All I could see was lacerations. It was just an unbelievable experience – something I've never seen before."

Snipes said Richardson first told him the girl hit her head the night before and later said she used the bathroom in bed and that "he lost it," and whipped her with a drop cord.

Prosecutors say the 25-year-old also tormented, tortured and terrorized Tegahn, who turned 4 just days earlier, for 10 days in a shed behind his grandparents' Smithfield home.

He faces charges of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping and sexual offense with a child and, if convicted, could face the death penalty.

Defense attorneys, however, say he didn't sexually abuse Teghan and never meant to kill her. He didn't have the parenting skills or experience to care for her while her mother, Helen Reyes, an Army reservist, attended military training in New Mexico.

Reyes, they say, had other childcare options but chose Richardson – her boyfriend of six months whom she and the child lived with in the small shed.

The child abuse, they say, was happening long before Reyes ever left Smithfield. She also faces a charge of negligent child abuse in the case.

"Helen taught Jonathan that abusing her daughter was appropriate by her actions or by her approval when it happened," defense attorney Jonathan Broun said in opening statements Monday.

That approval, combined with Richardson's own experiences of being abused as a child and undiagnosed mental problems contributed to Teghan's abuse and death.

"Jonathan loved Teghan, but he was as unequipped to care for a 4-year-old as a 21-year-old man could be," Broun said. "He had no idea how to take care of a little girl, and his actions showed it."

56 Comments

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  • livetotour Mar 3, 5:27 p.m.

    The grandparents should go to jail too. Absolutely disgusting behavior. IF their daughter had love and compassion in her heart, she NEVER would have let her beautiful daughter be abused! Shame on all the adults - the mom and boyfriend need the death penalty.

  • lcornetti2 Mar 3, 12:04 p.m.

    As sickening as this crime is, we are ALL well served to remember, for better or for worse, that our constitution guarantees us all a trial by jury. Imagine how his attorney probably feels, being duty bound to mount a "vigorous" defense for this slice of pond scum. But this is one of the fundamental tenets of our form of government, and if any one of us is ever charged with a crime, whether we are guilty or innocent, we will be grateful that it exists. I just can't guess why he didn't plea and get it over with. (Did the DA not accept a plea offer, maybe?) On Death Row he may well be safe from the Mary Butlers inside the system. In the general population, this cat won't last six months. Too many daddies of little girls in there, on both sides of the bars. Oh, and many parents of low IQ tenderly love their children and see that they are clean, fed, and cared for, so that dog won't hunt.

  • lkropp Feb 27, 10:29 a.m.

    Mom gone for 10 days and never bothered to contact her child to talk to her? To say his grandparents are good people is a laugh.....The mom, child and scumbag lived in this shed for months. His grandparents had to know that he was still there. Where did they think the mom and child went? Hindsight is so convenient to use after the damage is done. Mom and grandparents simply turned a blind eye on this. All need to be punished and take responsibility for Tegan's death. He'll get the death sentence and then live for years before the punishment is met, if at all. Let him live in the general population of prison. That should do it!!!!

  • cpdtg Feb 26, 3:22 p.m.

    That nurse is my new hero I have never met her but she is 1 of the best people in this messed up world God Bless you Mary Butler

  • kamudu34 Feb 26, 11:02 a.m.

    Hanging is way too good for either one of the scumb bags. they deserve NO MERCY WHATSOEVER

  • cpdtg Feb 26, 10:55 a.m.

    I hope they do not give him the death penalty If they do that he will not be in general population I am SURE he would not be treated well there

  • nobodyknow420 Feb 26, 10:47 a.m.

    That nurse is amazing.

  • NC Reader Feb 26, 10:46 a.m.

    If a gorilla or a dog can care for a child, there is absolutely no excuse for a 21-year-old man not to be able to do the same thing.

  • wayneboyd Feb 26, 10:43 a.m.

    Don't vote for... I agree, the shed was in the grandparents back yard and they never visited the child or heard her screaming or took the time to visit. This child seemingly had absolutely noone who gave a continental you know what for well being after she left the hospital. Can you imagine what she endured for her short lifetime.
    I kinda have to go along with don't vote for on thre grandparents part. Your grandchild lives in your back yard in a shed with a man you don't even know and you don't love it enough to go visit?
    There's a lot of blame to spread around here. This and the little Davis child stories make me ashamed I'm human.

  • Lightfoot3 Feb 26, 10:41 a.m.

    "death of Erin Maxwell. ... Justice was done. " - caryzoo


    I don't consider 5 to 15 years for killing a little girl as justice. He's already eligible for parole.

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