Paddock takes the stand in her own defense

SMITHFIELD, NC Paddock took the stand shortly after 11 a.m. Monday. She began her testimony by giving some of her personal history, recounting how she met and fell in love with her future husband Johnny Paddock and explaining how the couple went onto adopt several foster children.

Lynn Paddock, 47, is accused of engaging in what some have called "ritualistic torture" of her adopted children. She faces a charge of first-degree murder for the death of her four-year-old adopted son Sean, who prosecutors say was wrapped so tightly in blankets that he suffocated in February 2006.

Paddock testified that she and Johnny Paddock hadn't been able to conceive during the first several years of their marriage. She said she came to feel that it was her "calling" to adopt children. Paddock testified that she had seen an advertisement for a company called the Children's Home Society on a placemat at a Wendy's restaurant. That company links people who want to adopt children with foster children in need of adoption. The company ended up helping place six foster children in the care of the Paddocks.

The couple adopted their first child, Tami, in the mid-1990s. They adopted their second, Ray, in 1998.

Paddock also spoke of what it was like learning that she and Johnny had been matched with a third adoptive child. They adopted a young girl named Kayla in March of 2003.

"It's like finding out you're pregnant - the excitement is just unreal," Paddock said of learning that her third adoptive daughter, Kayla, would be joining the Paddock clan.

Paddock spent much of the early stage of her testimony explaining the kind of home schooling she did, teaching her stepdaughter, Jessy, and the first two children she adopted, Tami and Ray. Lynn Paddock described how both adopted children had significant behavioral problems, and that some of those problems led her and Johnny to pull them out of public schools and instruct them at home.

Lynn Paddock described how the children's studies greatly improved as she taught them in subjects ranging from math to spelling and writing.

"They played math, they played math games, they played Bingo, they played puzzle games, with the map of the United States," Paddock testified. She also told of how Ray's writing skills greatly improved under her tutelage. "Ray went from not being able to write at all to being able to write three-page papers, and he really progressed," she said.

She also said that when the children first started working on writing, she had them copy the Bible, and that when she taught them history, she began with the Biblical timeline.

Lynn Paddock went into detail about how she said she and her husband, Johnny, turned to the writings of a minister who advocated spanking and hitting children as a form of discipline. Paddock said that she turned to Michael Pearl's books in 1998 because she and Johnny were having a hard time keeping one of their adoptive children in line.

"We liked Michael Pearl's (approach) because it was quick, it didn't demean the child," Paddock said. "He advocated giving a swat and moving on."

Paddock spoke of how she went to a Lowe's Home Improvement store to try and find the kind of plastic piping Pearl suggested parents use for hitting their children. She non-chalantly described having a hard time finding the right kind of piping.

"The first flexible pipe that we found was so flexible that when you swung it wiggled all over the place," Paddock testified. "It was so silly, the child would just laugh at you. It would just wiggle like a worm." Paddock said that once she found piping to her liking, she and Johnny purchased it, cut it into smaller rods and then scattered them around their house so she wouldn't have to run around and search for a rod when she needed it, she said.

In court Monday afternoon, Lynn Paddock admitted that she had forced one of her adoptive sons to eat his own vomit, and she said she was "very ashamed" that she had at one time forced one of her adoptive daughters to sit in her bedroom with a bag of her own feces in her lap. The tearful testimony came during the second hour of Paddock's time on the stand in her own defense.

Last week Paddock's adopted children testified that Paddock had on occasion forced them to eat their own feces and vomit as the prosecution made its case. When asked by her defense attorney, Paddock admitted that she had forced her adoptive son to eat his own vomit. She testified that she knew Sean had the ability to vomit when he wanted. Paddock said she thought he had vomited intentionally and, through tears, she said she did make him eat it.

Paddock also admitted that another time an adoptive daughter named Hannah had defecated on her floor. Paddock said she thought Hannah did so because Hannah was trying to "act up." Paddock said she cleaned up the feces, put it in a bag and took the family to church. When they returned from church, she made Hannah sit on her bed with the bag in her lap. Paddock denied making Hannah eat the feces.

"I'm very ashamed," Paddock said on the stand.

But she denied several of the horrific allegations her stepdaughter and several of her adoptive children made against her under oath. Paddock denied ever forcing any of the children to eat their own feces. She said she never wrapped duct tape around their heads. "I've never used duct tape for anything except their fingers," Paddock told prosecutor Paul Jackson under cross-examination.

Paddock also said she never made any of the children urinate on themselves. She said she never starved them and never hit them with a wooden spoon. Paddock did admit to spanking the children and to hitting them with a plastic, "flex" rod. Jackson, the prosecutor, showed Paddock several photos taken of bruises found on the bodies of Paddock's adoptive children shortly after Sean Paddock died. Again and again, Paddock calmly answered Jackson's questions, admitting she had caused the bruises with the "flex" rod.

As the afternoon went on, Lynn Paddock recounted the days leading up to and the morning of the death of her four-year-old adopted son, Sean, in February 2006. Paddock confessed to wrapping Sean tightly in blankets for several days in an attempt to keep him from wandering around the house at night.

Paddock said she wrapped him up at least three nights prior to the night Sean died. "I wrapped him up in a thinner blanket, and I wrapped him up in a heavier blanket, it was like a quilt-type blanket, loosely, 'cause he ended up getting out of it." Paddock testified. "The point was as long as he was still it would make him go to sleep." One of the first nights Sean was wrapped, Lynn Paddock testified she and her husband, Johnny, could hear him yelling at night. She said he was "carrying on" but that he didn't sound like he was in pain.

On a subsequent night, Paddock said she wrapped Sean even tighter, with three blankets. On that night, Paddock said she checked on Sean at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and that he appeared okay, sleeping with the blankets about him.

"I came back the next morning, and he looked funny, and he was kinda stiff. I unwrapped him, and he was kinda stiff, and that's when I ran downstairs and I told Jessy to call 911. And that's when I started doing CPR. I really thought Sean was still alive at that point. There was no way he could be dead."

Paddock testified for nearly four hours Monday.

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