Teghan Skiba's wounds were textbook examples of torture, says expert
Posted March 26, 2014
Smithfield, N.C. — The wounds that covered the 40-pound body of Teghan Skiba were so severe that they were "textbook examples" of torture, a forensic pediatrician testified Wednesday – a day after a jury found the girl's mother's boyfriend guilty of murdering the child nearly four years ago.
"She had 144 injuries," Dr. Sharon Cooper said during graphic testimony in the sentencing phase of Jonathan Douglas Richardson's capital murder trial. "That is an extraordinarily high number, and these are not the type of injuries that would typically occur with a one-time loss of control."
Teghan stayed with the 25-year-old Richardson for 10 days in a shed that Johnston County prosecutors said doubled as a torture chamber behind the Smithfield home of his grandparents before he took the girl to a local hospital unconscious on July 16, 2010.
By that time, Johnston County prosecutors said, her brain had swollen and she had lost more than half of her blood. She died three days later.
Defense attorneys trying to keep Richardson from a possible death sentence said he had uncontrollable anger that caused him to lose patience and to abuse Teghan and that he never intended to kill her.
Cooper, however, said Teghan was abused every day while in Richardson's care and was the victim of physical, psychological and sexual forms of child torture.
"It's very deliberate and systematic and is meant to cause both mental and or physical suffering," she said. "A person takes time to set up what they're going to do. This is not a sudden loss of control. This is a calculated form of abuse."
Teghan and her mother, Helen Reyes, had been living with Richardson in the shed at the time of the crime. Reyes, however, was in New Mexico for military training and left Richardson to care for the child.
Reyes faces a child neglect charge in the case.
After four weeks of testimony and nearly four hours of closing arguments on Monday, the jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about an hour before finding Richardson guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense of a child and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury.
Testimony in the sentencing phase is expected to resume Friday – court is in recess Thursday – and could wrap up next week.