More details of Teghan Skiba's injuries revealed
Posted March 12, 2014
Smithfield, N.C. — Four-year-old Teghan Skiba's blood was found on a wooden rod collected from the shed where Johnston County prosecutors say she was beaten, bitten and sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend more than three years ago.
Jennifer Elwell, a DNA analyst for the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory, testified Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Jonathan Douglas Richardson that she found the girl's DNA on three spots of blood on the long, thin piece of lumber.
But she added that she couldn't determine how the blood got on the wood or when.
Richardson, 25, faces first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping and sexual offense in Teghan's July 19, 2010, death.
If convicted, he could also face the death penalty.
The state contends that Richardson tortured Teghan for 10 days while her mother, Helen Reyes, was out of town.
He took her to a local hospital June 16, 2010, witnesses have said, claiming she hit her head while jumping on a bed.
Dr. Jonathan Privette, assistant chief medical examiner for the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Greenville, said he observed injuries to Teghan's neck that were consistent with markings of a power cord – which the state contends Richardson used to abuse the child.
Despite the 66 bite marks and cuts and bruises too numerous to count, Privette testified, Teghan died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Jurors were visibly upset as they viewed autopsy photos of the child's body, and Teghan's paternal grandfather walked out of the courtroom during Privette's testimony. Her grandmother cried.
Defense attorneys say Richardson – damaged by years of abuse, uncontrolled anger and untreated mental problems – never sexually abused Teghan and that her death was an "unbelievable tragedy" that Richardson never meant to happen.
He loved Reyes and Tegan and wanted the three of them to be the perfect family, Richardson's attorneys say, but he had no idea how to care for a little girl.
Reyes, who had dated Richardson for about six months, could testify this week in the case.