Stepdaughter details years of abuse by murder suspect
Posted May 19, 2008 1:23 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2008 6:46 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — A Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son habitually beat all of the children in the house, her former stepdaughter testified Monday.
Lynn Paddock is charged with the Feb. 26, 2006, death of her 4-year-old adopted son, Sean. Investigators said Sean suffocated after she wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from wandering around the house at night.
Paddock's attorney insists the death was accidental, not punishment or discipline.
She also has been accused of beating Sean's two siblings, who also had been adopted by the Paddocks, with PVC pipe.
As part of several pre-trial motions presented Monday, a judge was trying to determine whether prosecutors could use evidence of other abuse to establish Lynn Paddock's character.
Also Monday, Johnny Paddock, Sean's adoptive father, said he was prepared to testify against his ex-wife. He divorced Lynn Paddock a year ago while she was in jail awaiting trial.
Jessy Paddock, 20, Johnny Paddock's daughter from a previous marriage, testified that she had "a certain amount of fear of doing anything wrong" because of possible retribution from her stepmother.
Johnny Paddock married Lynn Paddock when Jessy was about 2. She was an only child until she was 9, when the couple began adopting other children. Eventually, six other children were adopted into the family, including Sean and his two siblings, who were placed with the family by foster care officials.
Lynn Paddock would swear at the children and beat then with her fists, a ping-pong paddle, wooden spoons, tree branches and PVC pipe, Jessy Paddock said.
“It was well known that the longer you cried, the harder she would hit,” she said. “You made the least amount of noise as possible.”
She said she told her father of the abuse only once because Lynn Paddock threatened her with more beatings.
The family moved from Raleigh to a farm near Smithfield in 2001, and the abuse escalated with the isolation, Jessy Paddock said. She said one of the children was forced to eat vomit, and Lynn Paddock shoved feces in the mouth of another child.
Lynn Paddock further isolated the children by homeschooling them and taking the family to a Sanford church that discouraged television and other outside influences, Jessy Paddock said. After a while, the schooling consisted only of reading the Bible and copying scripture passages, she said.
Johnny Paddock, who wasn't charged in Sean's death, said he believes Lynn Paddock should pay for the boy's death. He said the two-year wait for the case to go to trial has been an emotional roller-coaster, and he said the family wants to get the case over with and move on with their lives.
Lynn Paddock's attorney has filed a motion to suppress Johnny Paddock's testimony, citing spousal privilege. But prosecutors said the law preventing one spouse from testifying against another doesn't apply in a murder case.