Local News

Richardson found guilty on all counts in 4-year-old Teghan Skiba's murder

Posted March 25

— With an hour of deliberations, a Johnston County jury on Tuesday found Jonathan Douglas Richardson guilty of sexually and physically abusing and then killing his former girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, Teghan Skiba, nearly four years ago.

Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson Full video: Opening & closing arguments

Richardson, 25, was convicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense of a child and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in the girl's July 19, 2010, death

The jury of seven women and five men must now decide whether Richardson should receive the death penalty. The sentencing phase of the trial, which will begin Wednesday afternoon, is expected to go into next week.

Richardson shook his head as each verdict was read.

His mother and grandmother, who sat in the gallery behind him, sobbed as the court clerk read the jury's decision. They declined to comment afterward, as did Teghan's paternal grandparents who were also in court for Tuesday's verdict.

Prosecutors say Richardson repeatedly satisfied his "sadistic desires" by tormenting, torturing and terrorizing the girl for 10 days in a shed that doubled as his torture chamber behind his grandparents’ Smithfield home while Teghan's mother was in New Mexico for Army Reserve training.

Richardson took Teghan – unconscious and barely alive with bruises, broken bones, other injuries and more than 60 bite marks covering her body – to a Smithfield hospital on July 16, 2010. She died three days later at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill from blunt force trauma to the head.

Jurors spent four weeks listening to testimony that, at times, brought some of them to tears, upset court employees and caused experienced medical and law enforcement workers, including a sheriff's deputy for 18 years, to break down on the stand.

Defense attorneys trying to keep Richardson off death row contended he was not guilty of first-degree murder because he never intended to kill Teghan.

Richardson loved Teghan and her mother – whom he had known for about six months – and wanted to start a family with them, his defense said.

Despite evidence that the child had injuries consistent with signs of sexual abuse, they argued that he never sexually abused her.

Her death was an accident, the defense said, that was the result of a combination of Richardson's inexperience with children, his own experiences of being abused as a child, undiagnosed mental disorders and his inability to control his anger.

During an impassioned closing argument Monday afternoon, Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson said nothing minimized Richardson's culpability for the crimes.

"The only way you can find this defendant not guilty is through fantastic leaps of the imagination," he said. "The only way you can find him not guilty is if you check your common sense at the door."

82 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • misschris234 Mar 26, 4:30 p.m.

    the ONE INDIVIDUAL responsible for this childs abuse and death has been found guilty!!! He's the... View More

    — Posted by scubagirl2

    Everyone is free to their opinion, but since her mother KNEW that J.R. had abused Teghan MANY times, left whelts, bruises, black eyes, etc on several occasions... she could have selected a better caregiver for her daughter while she was going to be on the other side of the country. That is her RESPONSIBILITY, by law, she was negligent, and that is why she was charged. You can't put your child into the hands of a person that has repeatedly abused her and then just throw your hands up when something horrible happens. She was negligent. J.R. killed Teghan, but would still be alive had her mother made better decisions.

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 26, 1:51 p.m.

    "they were scared of him, so even more a reason to keep their eyes and ears open" - so you dont like my opinion ok


    No, they didn't fear how he treated others but rather themselves. Just because someone treats you badly doesn't mean that treat everyone badly. The responsible party for the girl was her mother, who they thought was there.


    "Amazing they didn't hear anything don't ya think?" - so you dont like my opinion ok


    It depends. Old folks, in a brick home, with the AC going, it's not improbable. Plus he could have muffled the girl while hurting her. There were kids that screamed bloody murder in my old neighborhood. We always thought something was wrong, until we got use to it, and then IGNORED it. Bottom line is they testified they didn't know of the abuse, and there's NO PROOF they did.

  • so you dont like my opinion ok Mar 26, 12:44 p.m.

    Come on lightfoot, any caring person notices things, and their relationship is certainly not irrelevant, they were scared of him, so even more a reason to keep their eyes and ears open. Amazing they didn't hear anything don't ya think? I know they didn't do it and I certainly know he did it, I am not saying that, don't misconstrue what I said....

  • scubagirl2 Mar 26, 12:39 p.m.

    the ONE INDIVIDUAL responsible for this childs abuse and death has been found guilty!!! He's the one who did it, NOT the grandparents, NOT the mother, regardless of if they were afraid of him or not, they did nothing wrong. I'm sure they feel bad enough already without us blaming them (I don't)

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 26, 10:37 a.m.

    "they didn't even go check on the little girl in 10 days" - so you dont like my opinion ok


    The mom, who they thought was there, is responsible for the girl.


    "even though they were scared of him" - so you dont like my opinion ok


    Their relationship with their grandson is irrelevant of any relationship he has with some girlfriend and child.


    "they should have to answer for this" - so you dont like my opinion ok


    THEY didn't do it. HE did it. And the mother. Grandparents aren't responsible and didn't know of the abuse.

  • so you dont like my opinion ok Mar 26, 10:14 a.m.

    @ Lightfoot3 Mar 26, 9:40 a.m.


    "The monster's grandparents need to be tried next..." - foodstamptrader
    Given they didn't commit any crime, or know of the abuse, I don't think so.

    **** Are you serious, so you mean to tell me that they didn't even go check on the little girl in 10 days, even though they were scared of him, and surely they would wonder why they hadn't seen her in 10 days, this little one fell through the cracks in a lot of people's minds, they should have to answer for this and the mother who said she knew something was not right with him and yet left her daughter with him. A lot of poor decision making sadly... A BIG price to pay for not thinking things out for a few people.

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 26, 9:40 a.m.

    "The monster's grandparents need to be tried next..." - foodstamptrader


    Given they didn't commit any crime, or know of the abuse, I don't think so.

  • NC Reader Mar 25, 7:38 p.m.

    I know he has the right to a defense, but you know his lawyers weren't believing anything they... View More

    Amen to all this! His attorneys had the legal responsibility to give him the best defense possible. They had to grasp at straws (even less than straws) to do this. They can rest easy knowing that they tried and that he was, rightfully, convicted anyway.

  • foodstamptrader Mar 25, 5:22 p.m.

    His mother and grandmother, who sat in the gallery behind him, sobbed as the court clerk read... View More

    The monster's grandparents need to be tried next...

  • caroexc Mar 25, 5:07 p.m.

    conviction means nothing; the sentence is what matters - especially in this case. My God what a tragedy. May the sentence be commensurate with his crimes against the most innocent amoung us; a child.

More...