SMITHFIELD: Jury recommends death penalty for Richardson - WNCN: News, Weather

Jury recommends death penalty for Richardson in murder of Teghan Skiba

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A jury found Richardson guilty Tuesday in the case involving Teghan Skiba. A jury found Richardson guilty Tuesday in the case involving Teghan Skiba.
SMITHFIELD, N.C. - A jury recommended the death penalty for Jonathan Richardson Thursday for the murder of 4-year-old Teghan Skiba in 2010.

Richardson was found guilty by a Johnston County jury Tuesday in the case involving Skiba.

Richardson faced multiple charges, including first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense of a child and felonious child abuse. The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense, first degree kidnapping and felony child abuse.

Skiba died in 2010 after prosecutors said she was tortured by Richardson for 10 days.

On July 6, 2010, Skiba's mother, Helen Reyes, left her daughter with Richardson before she was sent to New Mexico for military training. Authorities said Reyes and Teghan had recently moved into a barn on Richardson's grandparents' property in Smithfield.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said the barn had no bathroom, no running water and a single air mattress on the floor for sleeping.

Bizzell said Richardson initially brought Teghan to the hospital July 16, 2010, claiming she had fallen out of bed. However personnel from Johnston Medical Center contacted police after discovering Teghan had bite marks, cuts, severe head trauma and appeared to have been tortured and sexually assaulted.

At the time Richardson told authorities he became upset when the girl wet the bed they were sharing and that he "lost it," whipping the girl with a drop cord. Warrants said Richardson told authorities he was bipolar and "little things set him off."

Richardson was charged with felony child abuse July 16, 2010, and Teghan later died July 19, 2010, at UNC Hospitals, resulting in a first-degree murder charge for Richardson.

Reyes was charged with negligent child abuse/serious bodily injury. A warrant for Reyes' arrest said she "had first-hand knowledge that this type of abuse had occurred prior to July 5 by Jonathan Richardson."

The warrant also stated that Reyes subjected her daughter to "verbal threats, intimidation, forced consumption of alcohol, severe physical beatings and assault by biting."

Bizzell said Reyes had told authorities she was scared of Richardson.

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