Jury finds Jonathan Richardson guilty of murdering Teghan Skiba, 4

pseligson@newsobserver.comMarch 25, 2014 

— After a four-week trial, jurors needed a little more than an hour to decide that Jonathan Douglas Richardson was guilty of kidnapping, sexually and physically abusing, and murdering 4-year-old Teghan Skiba.

Jurors began deliberating late Tuesday morning. Shortly after noon, they had made their decision: guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense with a child and felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury.

Richardson showed no emotion as the verdicts were read in succession.

The trial will continue Wednesday afternoon as prosecutors and defense attorneys begin to argue whether Richardson should be put to death. The trial will then be put on hold on Thursday, continue Friday morning and likely last into next week.

Richardson was the boyfriend of Teghan’s mother, Helen Roxana Reyes, who left Teghan in his care when she went to New Mexico for military training in July 2010. Richardson kept Teghan in a shed behind his grandparents’ home for 10 days, where he physically and sexually abused her. At one point, he shook her so hard that her head hit an unknown surface, causing a brain injury that eventually killed her.

Prosecutors contend that after the head injury, Richardson waited about 12 hours before taking Teghan to the hospital in Smithfield. She was transferred to a critical care unit in Chapel Hill, where she died.

Doctors found more than 60 bite marks across her body, signs of severe sexual abuse and whip marks from an extension cord that left copper embedded in her skin. Her brain had swollen, and she had lost more than half of her blood by the time she reached Chapel Hill.

Richardson’s attorneys argued that he was not guilty of first-degree murder, which requires an intent to kill.

His attorneys argued that he did not mean to kill Teghan when he shook her, and that abuse he suffered at the hands of his father coupled with undiagnosed mental problems caused him to abuse her.

They also said that Richardson should not be charged with kidnapping because Reyes had left Teghan with him.

During closing arguments, both sides said that Reyes was aware that Richardson was abusive before leaving Teghan with him. Reyes has been charged with felony negligent child abuse causing serious bodily injury and will be tried separately.

She last appeared in court in January. Her next court date hasn’t been set.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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