Local News

Medical examiner describes boy's death

Posted June 4, 2008 11:56 a.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2008 7:04 p.m. EDT

— Lynn Paddock cried Wednesday as prosecutors showed the jury photos from her adopted son's autopsy and the state's chief medical examiner described the manner in which the 4-year-old boy died on Feb. 26, 2006.

"(Sean Paddock died from asphyxiation) as a result of interference with his breathing, as a result of his being do tightly encircled or contained within the blankets," Dr. John Butts testified.

Butts was among a day-care worker, social worker and a crime scene investigator to take the stand.

Paddock 47, is charged with first-degree murder in Sean's death. Investigators said he suffocated after she wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from wandering around the house at night.

Ron Mazur, a crime scene investigator with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, also showed the jury evidence he collected from the Paddock home and attic where Sean had slept the nights prior to his death.

Among the evidence were bed sheets and several small plastic bags containing pieces of duct tape.

Earlier this week, the defendant's stepdaughter, Jessy, testified that Paddock wrapped Sean's entire head in duct tape on more than one occasion to keep him quiet at night.

Latesha Sherrod, a teacher at a day care Sean went to briefly, also recalled to the jury a January 2005 conversation she had with the boy.

Sherrod said Sean had been having trouble sitting and appeared to be in pain. Upon examining him, she said, she found a large bruise on his buttocks.

"I asked him what was wrong," Sherrod said. "'Did you fall? Did you get hurt or anything? And he said his new mom had hit him with 'a long thing.'"

Dee Ethridge, a Johnston County social worker sent to the Paddock home to investigate that incident, said she interviewed the Paddocks' children, Lynn Paddock and Paddock's then-husband, Johnny Paddock.

Ethridge said they told her Sean had fallen off a bed.

"They denied he had been physically disciplined while he was at home," Ethridge said. "They denied any physical discipline."

After a second follow-up visit, Ethridge said, she closed the investigation with no adverse findings.

Wednesday marked the tenth day of testimony for the prosecution. Each of the Paddocks' children have testified, over the past week, that Lynn Paddock abused them almost daily for years.

They said they were beaten with a variety of objects, were forced to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, were required to ask permission to use the bathroom and were denied contact with people outside the family.

Lynn Paddock's defense attorneys insist Sean's death was accidental, not punishment or discipline.