Grand Jury Indicts Adoptive Mother On First-Degree Murder Charges
Posted March 13, 2006 6:25 a.m. EST
JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Exactly what happened last month inside a Johnston County farmhouse that led to death of a 4-year-old boy is still unclear, but a grand jury decided Monday that it amounted to first-degree murder.
Lynn Paddock was arrested Feb. 26 and charged with murder in connection with the death of her adopted son, Sean who was found unresponsive in his bed early that morning.
Investigators later said that Paddock wrapped the boy so tightly in a blanket that he suffocated. They said the bindings were for punishment, but declined to elaborate on why they believe Sean was being punished. They also wouldn't say whether the boy had ever been disciplined before in that way.
Paddock had originally been charged with second-degree murder, but Johnston County District Attorney Tom Lock said he asked the grand jury to indict Paddock on first-degree charges because the abusive nature of the death was "so extreme."
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined in a preliminary autopsy report that there was abusive trauma, but that the blows didn't cause Sean's death. It was tight bindings that killed him.
"Basically, this was torture, and that's why we sought the first-degree murder charge," Lock said.
Lynn Paddock's lawyer, Michael Reece, said he did not believe his client had any intention to kill Sean.
Potentially, this case could be a death penalty case, but Lock said he did not think there are aggravating circumstances to make a case for capital punishment.
Lynn Paddock and her husband, Johnny Paddock, had six adopted children at their rural Johnston County home, including Sean's biological brother and sister. Lynn Paddock also faces felony child abuse charges after serious bruising was found on their bodies, as well.
Johnny Paddock has not been charged in the case, but investigators tell WRAL that is still a possibility.