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Teghan Skiba's wounds were textbook examples of torture, says expert

Posted March 26, 2014

— 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.

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

"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.


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  • Anna Stancil Apr 1, 2014
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    In order to be admitted to a psychiatric unit/facility, there are criteria: A) You are a danger to yourself, B) You are a danger to others, OR C) You are a danger to yourself AND others.

    I am not defending him. What he did is inexcusable and IMHO warrants the DP. But, please know about mental illness before making such comments.

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 28, 2014

    “You dont think that woman is obligated by law to report a horrendous crime of abuse as this was????” - 1-WOLFPACK

    Yes, but she testified she didn’t know of the abuse, and there’s no evidence or proof that she did.

  • NCchick Mar 28, 2014

    Is Wral going to provide live feed from the courtroom today?

  • Phillip Holmes Mar 28, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    You dont think that woman is obligated by law to report a horrendous crime of abuse as this was???? Do you truly beleive it was right that she never even peeked in on the little girl knowing how volatile her grandson was to everyone??? She couldnt even offer the little girl a glass of cold water knowing she didnt have access to any for God's sake! ......what a cruel heartless woman she is......I guess it runs in the veins in that family.......YES !! SHE HAS AN OBLIGATION TO DO THE HUMANE THING AND SAVE THAT LITTLE GIRL FROM HER DESPICABLE GRANDSONS BEATINGS....PERIOD

  • Judy Fergerson Mar 28, 2014
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    It is amazing to me how this person is labeled mentally ill and has issues with uncontrollable anger - YET HE NEVER CAUSED HARM TO HIMSELF- ONLY TO OTHERS - that perhaps says he knew what he was doing in the time frame he did it.

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 28, 2014

    "she saw a black eye" - junkbeetle290

    Which the MOM said was from falling down, which is plausible. My daughter had two sets of black eyes within a year. I told everyone she got hit by a ball, TWICE!. Believe me?

    "considered her prior problems with him" -junkbeetle290

    Her prior "problems" with him aren't relevant to his relationship to girlfriends and their kids. Just because someone is mean to you doesn't mean you should think they are abusing children.

    "knew the conditions in that shed" -junkbeetle290

    So did the mother, who is the actual one responsible for the child, not the grandmother of the dude she's getting busy with.

    "she helped kill that little girl" - junkbeetle290

    Nope. Richardson is the one that did that all by himself. And the mother was negligent in leaving her with him.

  • Jane Tuohey Mar 27, 2014
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    Agreed Junkbeetle290

  • Jane Tuohey Mar 27, 2014
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    Personally I am sick of looking at his emotionless face....

  • Tim Pearce Mar 27, 2014
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    We need to start screeening every body... this is GOD AWFUL !!!!! And happening more and more.

  • Janni Cone Mar 27, 2014
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    While the grandparents didn't DO this, they played a pretty big role. Esp Grandma, it appears. they enabled the shed of horrors. And the mother IS facing charges - and deservedly so... she certainly second in line in the blame placing. Then the grandparents.... But the monster is certainly the primary perpetrator, obviously....