Opening arguments held in Paddock trial

May 23, 2008 2:00:15 PM PDT
A Johnston County jury heard opening arguments in the Lynn Paddock murder trial Friday. Paddock is charged with killing her 4-year-old adopted son, Sean Paddock. February 2006, Sean suffocated to death after being wrapped in blankets too tightly.

Lynn Paddock walked into the courtroom as prosecutors told jurors that Lynn murder her son, not in a pre-meditated killing, but through a history of increasing violence.

"It is about ever-escalating child abuse," Prosecutor Paul Jackson said. "That as time progressed, got worse, and worse, and worse."

Paddock's defense attorney told the jury that Lynn tried her best to raise seven special needs children - six of them adopted in a house with one bathroom. Defense Attorney Jack O'Hale explained, "Taking care of not one, but seven children is difficult."

O'Hale said Lynn Paddock and her husband turned to religion for guidance. He held up a book called, "To Train Up a Child," by Michael Pearl. "The theory of Michael Pearl is spare the rod and spoil the child," O'Hale said.

Prosecutors said the case was about deception, not religion. The Paddock children were home schooled and could not talk to outsiders. "For the outside world there was this image of Little House on The Prairie," Jackson said. But he also said they will prove Lynn Paddock forced four-year-old Sean to sit for hours in the dark and to eat his feces.

In a pre-trial hearing, another Paddock child testified that she saw Lynn viciously beat Sean just days before he suffocated to death.

Lynn Paddock is charged with first degree murder in Sean's death. She is also charged with abusing Sean and his two biological siblings, who were also adopted by the Paddocks. She has pleaded not guilty on all charges.

Testimony is expected to begin on Tuesday.


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