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Jury Weighs Death Penalty In Case Of N.C. Man Convicted In Rape And Murder Of Toddler

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Johnson County Sheriff
Johnson County Sheriff

A North Carolina man found guilty of raping, torturing and killing his former girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter could face the death penalty.

On Tuesday, jurors found Jonathan Douglas Richardson guilty on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense with a child and felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury in the case of Teghan Skiba, who died in July 2010.

According to police, Teghan's mother, Helen Roxana Reyes, left her little girl in Richardson's care when she went to New Mexico for military training.

Prosecutors said Richardson "sadistically" tortured the girl in a shed behind his grandparents’ Smithfield, N.C., home for 10 days. Video taken of the girl days before her death left jurors and court workers emotionally shaken, according to WRAL.

Richardson delivered Teghan to an area hospital unconscious and barely alive on July 16, 2010. Medical staff could not believe what they saw.

"It was beyond anything they [the emergency workers who received Teghan] had ever seen before," prosecutor Paul Jackson told jurors in February, during opening statements in Richardson's trial.

The girl, whose brain was swollen and had lost more than half her blood, was brought in with multiple injuries including bruises, broken bones, and more than 60 bite marks covering her body, according to WRAL. She died three days after being taken to the hospital.

Richardson's defense argued that the accused had uncontrollable anger issues that caused him to lose patience and abuse the girl. Reyes, who testified in court March 13, said she knew Richardson had hit Teghan in the past after she vomited on his chair.

Reyes' mother told the court that she'd seen Richardson grab Teghan by the arms and shake her to make her stop crying. The defense argued that the girl's mother knew about the abuse long before the child died, and did nothing to stop it.

But Reyes, who is free on bond after being charged with negligent child abuse in her daughter's death, made no excuses for Richardson, according to WTVD.

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

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