Paddock takes the stand in her own defense
Paddock takes the stand in her own defense
SMITHFIELD, NC (WTVD) -- Lynn Paddock, the Johnston County woman accused of wrapping her adopted son so tightly in blankets that he suffocated, took the stand in her own defense Monday.
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.
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.
The defense's first witness Monday was Deborah Arist, a social worker with Children's Home Society, who helped the Paddocks adopt six children over a 10-year period. Johnny and Lynn Paddock adopted the children from 1996 through 2005.
Artis testified that the Paddocks successfully completed some kind of a training program that was a prerequisite for people wanting to adopt foster children. The Paddocks had already adopted three foster children when they filed the paperwork to adopt Sean Paddock and his biological siblings, Hannah and David, in 2005. Sean died when he was 4-years-old in February 2006.
Artis testified that in the years before the Paddocks adopted Sean and his siblings she never saw or was aware of any physical abuse in the Paddock household. Artis did, however, say that she knew the Paddocks used disciplinary tactics that included "timeouts" and the revocation of certain privileges inside their Johnston County farmhouse.
On cross-examination, Artis testified that the Paddocks did reap financial benefits for adopting the 6 foster children. She said they received about $300 monthly for caring for Sean, and more than $400 for most of the other children.
While the prosecution is arguing Sean died as a result of torture, the defense has argued that the death was accidental. They have also indicated they plan to argue Lynn Paddock was heavily influenced by the teachings of an evangelical minister in Tennessee who advocates hitting children with plastic PVC piping when they misbehave.
On the stand, Artis cried when prosecutor Paul Jackson showed her photographs of bruises on Sean Paddock's body that were taken during his autopsy.
Stay with ABC11.com and ABC11 Eyewitness News with the latest on this developing story.