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Teghan Skiba's mother says Richardson 'murdered my daughter'

Helen Reyes says she wants justice for her daughter, saying her boyfriend murdered her baby.
March 13, 2014 3:36:02 PM PDT
The mother of the 4-year-old Johnston County girl who was allegedly tortured to death, burst into tears Thursday as she testified in her former boyfriend's murder trial.

Jonathan Richardson is facing first-degree murder, and felony child abuse charges in connection with the death of Teghan Skiba.

In July 2010, the 4-year-old girl was admitted to the hospital by then-21-year-old Richardson after he claimed she had fallen off the bed. However, doctors found she had cuts, bruises, and bite marks on her body.

Skiba died days later. An autopsy revealed that the girl died from a blow to the head.

Richardson is accused of beating and sexually assaulting the girl for 10 days while her mother, Helen Roxanne Reyes, was out-of-state for Army Reserves training.

On Thursday, Reyes began to cry as she stated her name for the courtroom after she took the witness stand.

Reyes has been free on bond since her 2010 arrest on felony negligent child abuse causing serious bodily harm in connection with her daughter's death.

Prosecutors told the jury that Reyes has rejected any and all plea deal offers made to her by the state.

Reyes responded by saying she was not testifying to get a better plea deal, she said she rejected everything because she said she is not guilty.

"I am here for Teghan, for my daughter ... to get justice for her, because that man murdered my baby ...," Reyes said sobbing.

During Reyes' testimony about Skiba's first few years of life and the time period they lived with Richardson, Richardson sat emotionless. Thursday was the first time the former couple have come face-to-face since Skiba's death.

Reyes described one incident during that time period, where her daughter got a cut on her head when Richardson was taking care of her while Reyes was at the store.

The jury also learned that Reyes knew about some abuse to her daughter before the actual crime had even occurred.

"He had told me that he had whipped her for throwing up on his chair," she said.

Since Skiba's death, Reyes has had another child, a now 8-month-old baby girl.

Before Reyes took the stand, the judge briefly put the trial on hold in order to investigate comments made to jurors outside of the courtroom Wednesday.

While jurors were out to lunch, a bystander allegedly walked up to some of them and said "you need to find him guilty," referring to Richardson.

The bystander also yelled to jurors, "He's guilty; I don't care what y'all say," as they got into a car after their break from court.

It was noted that two deputies from another county were escorting the jurors to lunch when the incident happened.

The judge listened to arguments as Richardson's defense team motioned for a mistrial.

The request was denied after the judge questioned the jury about what they heard, and asked if the comment affected them. Jurors said they were able to continue with the trial.

The state should wrap up their case early next week, and then it will be on to the defense. The trial could last up to another week or two.

Prosecutors are currently seeking the death penalty against Richardson. Reyes could likely face a trial of her own for admitting that she knew Richardson had harmed her daughter in the past.

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