Doctor says Paddock meant no harm

Date: 2008-06-10

Doctor says Paddock meant no harm

By Mandy Locke

SMITHFIELD - Lynn Paddock's defense rested its case this morning with the testimony of a forensic psychologist who said Paddock never meant to harm her children.

"Many of the behaviors she was engaged in were an attempt to bring order using tenets that were important to her religious community and the teachings she relied on," Dr. James Hilkey of Durham testified.

"She clearly believes what she has done is wrong," he said. But he said he didn't think she had the intent to harm her children.

Hilkey said that Paddock's troubled childhood left her without the moral compass to distinguish right from wrong.

He said she has chronic depression, an anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder because of the abuse she endured as a child.

"We know her early years were extremely chaotic," Hilkey said. "Her mother was unpredictable. The effect that had on her was not to be able to accurately predict what would happen next."

Hilkey said Paddock relied on the advice of Michael Pearl, an evangelist from Tennessee who advises parents on how to rear submissive, Godly children.

"She believed the children had to be safe before she could work on bonding," Hilkey said.

On cross-examination, Hilkey said Paddock is not insane.

"I did not find any reason to say she was mentally ill enough to not know what she was doing," Hilkey said.

He also acknowledged much of the abuse her children described during the trial could be considered sadistic.

Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins will hear arguments today on what charges to allow the jury to consider against Paddock. She is accused of killing her 4-year-old son, Sean, by suffocation in 2006.

Paddock is charged with first-degree murder, but Jenkins could also let jurors consider lesser offenses, such as second-degree murder or manslaughter.

The jury will hear closing arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers Wednesday.

In testimony earlier today, a social worker corroborated Paddock's description of the severe abuse she suffered as a child.

"It was as bad abuse as we'd ever seen," said Jean Cothran, then a social worker for the Fairfax County, Va., Department of Social Services said. "It stuck with us for a long time."

Cothran worked with Paddock's family in the 1970s and removed Paddock from her family's home as a teenager. She said Paddock endured beatings, hours spend locked in rooms and meals denied.

Cothran said that she was terrified of Paddock's mother. Paddock's mother, Cothran said, called Cothran's home and threatened her children while DSS had an active case against her.

Paddock's siblings and the daughters in the foster home where social workers placed Paddock described her as timid and shy. They said she had a tendency to follow the lead of others and never stuck up for herself.

Judy Blazek, one of the daughters in the foster home where Paddock was sent at age 14, said that it didn't surprise her that Paddock would discipline her children following the instruction of a minister who wrote about child rearing.

Paddock "wanted her family to be perfect. So she would pretty much follow any book or any suggestion that you gave her on helping these children through life. I see her spanking them to get them to be perfect."

mandy.locke@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-8927

COMPARING TESTIMONY

Lynn Paddock's children accused her of much over the past two weeks. She took the stand Monday to answer for herself.

SHE ADMITTED

* Wrapping Sean in blankets the night he died

* Hitting the children with plastic plumbing supply line, per the instruction of Michael Pearl, a minister from Tennessee

* Forcing David to eat vomit

* Binding another daughter in blankets

* Preventing the children from using the bathroom unless granted permission

SHE DENIED

* Forcing Hannah or Sean to eat feces

* Taping shut their mouths with duct tape

* Hitting Ray with a hammer

* Kicking the children

* Forcing Hannah to drink water and urinate on herself

* Ordering the children to sit in front of a wall for hours on end

* Making the children exercise on a mini-trampoline for several hours

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