Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said Thursday that she plans to seek the death penalty in two high-profile murder cases.
Jonathan Douglas Richardson, 21, of Smithfield will face the death penalty if he's convicted in the abuse and death of 4-year-old Teghan Skiba in July. He's charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse. According to search warrants, Teghan had severe head injuries and bruises, cuts and human bite marks all over her body when Richardson brought her to the hospital. She died several days later.
The girl's mother, Helen Reyes, was charged with felony negligent child abuse causing serious bodily injury. Investigators say she left Richardson to care for her daughter in a barn without running water while she went to New Mexico for Army Reserve training.
Doyle also plans to seek a death sentence in the case of 34-year-old Matthew Hagert Salentine. Salentine is charged with first-degree murder, burglary and armed robbery in the death of 74-year-old Patricia Stevens of Smithfield. She was found beaten to death on June 24 at her home a few blocks from downtown.
Doyle declined to comment on why she's seeking the death penalty, saying she doesn't speak about the specifics of pending cases.
Both Richardson and Salentine are being held without bail in the Johnston County jail.