Testimony reveals suspect in 4-year-old Teghan Skiba's murder case suffered years of abuse

The doctor that treated 4-year-old Teghan Skiba described the brain damage she suffered before her death. (WTVD)
March 7, 2014 2:02:12 PM PST
For two weeks, jurors in the murder trial of Jonathan Richardson have heard about the horrific injuries 4-year-old Teghan Skiba received before her death, but on Friday, a former social worker revealed Richardson also suffered from years of abuse.

"(Father) admitted to whipping Jonathan Richardson with the belt," social worker James Condon said. "Jonathan reported he got spankings for being sassy in the mouth ? that this was the first time he got a bruise from a spanking ? Jonathan received spankings from a belt or his father's hand ... and he was spanked on the legs or on his face."

Richardson's defense attorneys have argued that client is mentally ill and that the Johnston County girl's death was a tragic accident.

Skiba was allegedly tortured, sexually assaulted, and beaten by her mother's boyfriend over a 10-day period while her mother, Helen Roxanne Reyes, was out-of-state for Army Reserves training in July 2010.

The then-21-year-old Richardson had originally taken the 4 year old to Johnston Medical Center -- she was later transferred to UNC-- claiming the girl had fallen off the bed. However, doctors found she had cuts, bruises, a head wound, and bite marks on her body. Skiba died days later from her injuries.

On Friday, a doctor to who treated Skiba at the hospital explained the courtroom that X-rays showed the girl received significant head trauma.

He said her brain was swelling so much that they considered removing part of her skull. He also said CT scans revealed Skiba's head was smashed and blood was in her brain.

The doctor told the jury that "...when you look at her injuries...you were shocked." He said he when he saw the extent of her injuries, he was "nauseous and angry."

"I became angry...when they unwrapped the sheet it became very clear this person had been suffering for a long period of time and I was not prepared for that?the worst pediatric injury...injury patten...injury case I've ever seen," he said.

"These were painful injuries, and they were inflicted again and again ... she had marks from re-injuries ... wounds infected," he added.

Last week, the attending physician at UNC's intensive care unit for children testified that he "nearly vomited" when he saw Skiba at the hospital and that he had never seen injuries like that on any child in his 25 years as a doctor.

"We saw this small frail girl who you know from her status she was pale, she was poorly perfused, in shock, those parts ... don't portray how beaten this child was when she ... I had a first look at her," Dr. Keith Kocis said. "These scars, these whip marks, these injuries to her skin that were all over her body, I mean there was essentially no part of her body that was spared."

Authorities have said the 4 year old was tortured inside the air conditioned shed behind Richardson's grandparents' home, where she was living. There was no running water, no bathroom, and just a single air mattress on the floor to sleep on.

Richardson has been charged with first-degree murder, and felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

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