Jonathan Richardson sentenced to death in the murder of Teghan Skiba

A jury in Johnston County has sentenced Teghan Skiba's killer, Jonathan Richardson, to death Thursday evening.
April 4, 2014 5:36:58 AM PDT
A jury in Johnston County sentenced Jonathan Richardson to death Thursday evening for the murder of 4-year-old Teghan Skiba.

Skiba's paternal grandparents told ABC11 that they are not satisfied because nothing will bring Teghan back. With the death sentence not being carried out anytime soon, they don't think it's fair that he gets to live longer than Teghan was alive.

"Even the death penalty does not bring our granddaughter back," said Teghan's grandfather, Gerald Skiba. "It does not take away her suffering. The way I see it, he got the verdict today. He should be dead tomorrow."

Teghan's aunt on her mother's side said she is happy justice was served, but nothing will bring back her niece.

Lawyers made their final arguments in the death penalty phase of Richardson's murder trial Thursday earlier in the day.

The same jury found Richardson guilty of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping, and sexual offense with a child last week.

In July 2010, the then-21-year-old Richardson took Skiba to the Johnston Medical Center claiming the child 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 after she was transferred to UNC.

Richardson was supposed to be babysitting the child for his then girlfriend, but prosecutors say he brutally tortured her over a 10-day period while her mother, Helen Roxanne Reyes, was out-of-state for Army Reserves training.

In her closing arguments Thursday, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle told jurors that Skiba suffered unimaginable pain in her final days. She lost over 70 percent of the blood in her body from the numerous wounds.

"The defendant bit Teghan all over her body over 60 times and she began to slip away," said Doyle.

Doyle went on to remind jurors of how Skiba's family will never get to experience life events with her like birthdays, school plays, getting her driver's license, or the high school prom.

"The defendant took that away," said Doyle.

Doyle then showed the jury Teghan's copy of the popular children's book by Diane de Groat called "Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite!"

"If only Teghan's biggest fear had been bedbugs biting," said Doyle.

Prosecutor Greg Butler told the jury the murder was extremely wicked and shockingly evil.

"Jonathan Richardson is a sadist and a killer. He's cold hearted, and he's totally without remorse," said Butler.

Prosecutor Paul Jackson spoke of the "...the awful, unimaginable circumstances surrounding her murder, her violation, at the hands of that defendant."

Richardson's defense team argued that he should not be sentenced to death, and tried to convince jurors that life in prison was the sentence they should choose.

"He will die in prison as the lowest form of life in the abyss," said attorney Mike Klinkosum.

Klinkosum said that, as a prisoner convicted of the torture and murder of child, Richardson will be a target for other prisoners.

"There will never come a time when he can let his guard down," he offered.

There was no reaction from Richardson himself when the death sentence was announced, and he declined to address the court after the sentence was read.

Meanwhile, family members are planning a candlelight vigil to honor Teghan on the evening of Tuesday, April 15 on the steps of the Johnston County Courthouse.

See It On TV | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | Send us photos
Follow @abc11 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments