Life without parole for Paddock

June 12, 2008 1:19:45 PM PDT
Lynn Paddock will never spend another day outside of prison. A jury found the Johnston County woman guilty of first-degree murder by torture and felony child abuse this morning in the death of her four-year-old adoptive son Sean in February 2006. Paddock sat, stared and showed little emotion as the verdict was read. She stood without expression as the judge handed down her sentence."A term of life imprisonment without parole," declared Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins. During the three-week trial, Paddock, 47, admitted to wrapping Sean Paddock in blankets so tightly that he suffocated. She said she did so to keep him from wandering around at night, and her lawyers argued Paddock didn't mean for Sean Paddock to die. They also regularly mentioned Lynn Paddock's abusive childhood, and said it was the only kind of child-rearing she knew.

Jurors heard from Paddock's stepdaughter and five of her adoptive children, who testified to horrific abuse at Paddock hands. Prosecutors sought the unique conviction of first degree murder by felony torture, and jurors agreed.

"It is a tragedy all around, the children will be dealing with the abuse that they suffered for the rest of their lives. I'm confident they will be fine," said lead prosecutor Paul Jackson. "We have to remember that this was about a 4 year old little boy named Sean, who lost his life, so there's nothing to celebrate."

Jackson said he thought that with therapy, Paddock's other children would become "wonderful" parents. "I believe that with the proper therapy they will be fine, and that we have finally stepped in to end the cycle," Jackson said. He also said he looked forward to speaking to the three youngest children whom Paddock adopted. "One of the things that I'm looking forward to doing is telling David, Hannah and Kayla that they do not have to be afraid ever again," Jackson told reporters after court adjourned.

Throughout the trial, indeed for the last couple of years, many have wondered what role Johnny Paddock, Lynn Paddock's ex-husband, played in the abuse inside the couple's Johnston County farmhouse. Eyewitness News reporter Tim Nelson broke the news of the verdict to Johnny Paddock by phone Thursday morning. Johnny Paddock was not called to testify during the trial.

"The whole situation is tragic and sad," Johnny Paddock said Thursday. "But I think justice is served. It's the right outcome."

He continues to maintain he was not aware of Lynn Paddock's abusive behavior. "I really don't know how she got away with it," Johnny Paddock said of the abuse. "I worked and still do work all the time. I was driving an hour, hour and a half one-way everyday? I trusted her. She was my wife and I trusted her, and I never saw that side of her."

"I thought she was doing the right thing," Johnny Paddock said. "I really didn't know. There was a reason I wasn't arrested. It was because I did not know."

Jackson, the prosecutor, was asked why Johnny Paddock has never been charged.

"That was a decision that was made a long time ago," Jackson said. "We can only make a decision based upon the evidence, and not upon speculation, no matter how reasonable that speculation is."

Lynn Paddock's family members ? many who testified on her behalf during the trial ? say they were shocked by the first-degree murder conviction. They say they expected a lesser verdict.

"It's unfortunate that the events of her life and the abuse that we suffered form the hands of my mother have destroyed another life," said Paddock's half-brother Fred Neyhart. "I see it not as torture - torture is an act that is done with full knowledge of what you are doing is causing harm," Neyhart added.

"I believe at the time these events were taking place I don't believe it was her intent to torture, she was disciplining in the only way she knew how to discipline."

Eyewitness News also spoke with Sean Paddock's biological grandfather, Ronald Ford, Sr. He has lawsuits pending against the state, Wake County and the adoption agency which place Sean and his siblings with the Paddocks. "I'm glad she was found guilty," Ford, Sr. said. "But I'm still concerned with why she was allowed to get the kids in the first place."


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