Psychologist testifies in Richardson trial's penalty phase


The penalty phase continued Monday in Smithfield.

A doctor was on the stand all afternoon talking about the convicted killer's upbringing. He said there's a lot of smoke pointing to one thing.

"I concluded that he's a quite disturbed individual," said psychologist Dr. Mathew Mendel. "I concluded that there's a lot of mystery involved with Jonathan Richardson and with his family more generally, and frankly I had more difficulty finding out information."

While Mendel says there's a lot of smoke, he couldn't pinpoint a fire -- meaning what actually was wrong with Richardson. Mendel is expected to testify Tuesday as well.

Richardson was found guilty last week of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping, and sexual offense with a child in the 2010 death of his then-girlfriend's daughter. He now faces a possible death sentence.

During his closing arguments one week ago, an emotional Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson told jurors Skiba was tortured, sexually assaulted, and beaten by Richardson 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 took Skiba to Johnston Medical - 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 after she was transferred to UNC.

Richardson's defense attorney Jonathan Broun said during his closing argument that Richardson never intended to kill the girl. Instead, the attorney said Richardson shook the child so hard that it caused brain injuries, and then waited too long to get her medical help.

When the jury finally gets their case to decide this time around, it will only be life or death for Richardson since they already convicted him for killing Skiba.

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