Paddock's children testify

Date: 2008-05-28

Paddock's children testify

 
By Mandy Locke, Staff Writer

SMITHFIELD - Hannah and David Paddock took the stand this afternoon to tell jurors how Lynn Paddock, their adoptive mother, hurt them.
Paddock is on trial for the murder of Hannah's youngest brother, Sean, who was bound so tightly in blankets in 2006 that he stopped breathing. Hannah, Sean and their brother David had been adopted by Lynn and Johnny Paddock not seven months before.

Hannah was giggly and slight in a hot pink miniskirt. She talked lovingly about favorite teachers and her buddies in third grade. She promised to tell the truth about what happened in Lynn Paddock's house.

"She had like a rod, it looked like metal," Hannah said. "She would spank me with it. I tried not to cry, because if I kept crying I would get more spankings."

Hannah showed jurors how Lynn Paddock made her sit still and face a wall. She crawled down from the witness box, sat cross legged and told jurors she'd rather have been outside playing.

Hannah paused as a prosecutor asked her to describe for jurors the time Paddock forced her to eat feces.

"Then, this really gross thing happened," Hannah said.

"You don't like to talk about it?" the prosecutor asked.

"Nope," Hannah said.

About Sean, she remembered: "He was playful and cute, too. He was four when he died."

Then David, Hannah's older brother, got in the witness box. He was shy and meek in a tie and dress slacks. His new adoptive mother stood at his side.

He spoke in single words and turned his chair away from Lynn Paddock, who adopted him in 2005.

"Are you happy you don't live [with the Paddocks] anymore?" asked Prosecutor Paul Jackson

"Yes," he said.

"Do you miss your brother?" Jackson asked.

"Yes," David said.

David's new mother sniffled behind him as David had to talk about being forced to eat his own vomit and going hungry in Paddock's home.

Kayla, 11, joined her two siblings in telling jurors how their mother disciplined them. A third-grader, Kayla barely spoke above a whisper and snuck glances every few moments at Paddock.

Kayla described her life at the Paddocks' this way: "It was miserable and hard."

She talked about being forced to jump on a mini trampoline all day long and being beaten with a plastic plumbing pipe.

"She always beat me whatever I did, she would beat me. She'd beat me with a pipe and a belt."

A judge ruled yesterday that Hannah and 10-year-old Kayla and 11-year-old David had to testify before Paddock.

A doctor said the children have plunged into despair since therapists and detectives have forced them to talk about what went on in the Paddock home. Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician, who evaluated the children, urged the judge to spare them the trauma of saying what happened in front of Paddock.

Cooper said Hannah has become terrified that Paddock would try to kill her and that no one would save her because she is a Paddock. Kayla has started biting herself and stabbing herself with a pencil. David's become irritable, Cooper said, crying uncontrollably and having nightmares.

Earlier today, Johnston County Sheriff's Detective Ed Little shared with jurors photos of Sean Paddock's battered body this morning as the jury in the murder trial of Sean's mother learned more about the day he died.

Jurors passed the photos of Sean down their rows, silent as they stared at the 4-year-old's tiny body, which was discolored with welts and bruises.

Lynn Paddock, Sean's adoptive mother, looked down at her table as a prosecutor held the photos for Little to describe.

One by one, law enforcement officers recalled this morning their memories of the day Sean died. Lynn Paddock is on trial charged with first-degree murder for his death; Sean suffocated after being bound so tightly in blankets he couldn't breathe.

Little spoke with Lynn Paddock at the hospital the morning Sean died. She told him that she'd never seen her children abuse each other, he testified. She said that she punished her children by taking away privileges and might, now and again, swat them on the butt.
Johnston County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Reliford told jurors that Lynn Paddock, moments after she learned of Sean's death, asked whether she should be calling her attorney.

Reliford told jurors that Lynn Paddock grew angry when he began asking her questions about Sean at the Emergency Department at Johnston Memorial Hospital.

"They wanted to hurry up to see [Sean] so they could go home," Reliford told jurors this morning. "They wanted to know why deputies were at the house and why we could be there without a warrant."

On Tuesday, Paramedic Chris Credle and two other rescue workers who were dispatched to see about Sean that February 2006 day described to jurors what they encountered.

The call had crackled over Credle's scanner 13 minutes before as he and fellow paramedic Michael White wrapped up a Sunday morning breakfast at Golden Corral, Credle testified. The 911 operator offered the details: 4-year-old boy. Cardiac arrest. Mother's trying CPR.

As White rushed their ambulance to the remote farmhouse outside Smithfield, Credle said he ticked through a mental list of gear they'd need to revive the boy. Once there, they raced into the Paddocks' house, White nearly tripping over logs and rope on the porch.

They found Rayford Twigg, a volunteer rescue worker, bent over Sean in the dimly lit kitchen, puffing air through the boy's clenched teeth, according to testimony.

Credle testified that he knew there was no hope for Sean when Twigg looked up at him. He knew that look. Utter hopelessness, Credle told jurors.

Sean, dressed in only soiled underwear and a T-shirt, was stiff. Credle couldn't find a pulse. Sean's skin had turned blue. He didn't flinch or blink when paramedics called his name.

Credle told jurors he ordered rescue workers to carry the child to the ambulance. For the family's sake, Credle said they pretended, rushing him to the hospital as if there might be a chance.

At Johnston Memorial Hospital, a doctor said what they all knew: Sean was dead.

A nurse phoned the on-call chaplain to break the news to the Paddocks. He couldn't come, so a doctor asked Credle, an ordained minister, to tell the family the news, he testified.

In the waiting room, Credle said, Johnny Paddock peppered him with questions. Lynn Paddock leaned back into a chair and looked at Credle as if she could see through him, Credle recalled.

"I'm sorry," Credle began.

Credle said he watched Lynn Paddock fold her arms.

"Your child has died," he continued.

Lynn Paddock laced her fingers, Credle testified, and squeezed until her knuckles turned white.

Deputy Reliford had joined Credle to speak with the Paddocks. He'd seen bruises and abrasions covering Sean's body when the emergency room doctor cut his t-shirt off. The doctor urged him to go interview the Paddocks.

Reliford told jurors that Lynn Paddock grew increasingly angry with him and demanded to know why he was asking her so many questions.

Back at the house, Johnston County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Brian Murphy coaxed the children out of the house and into his patrol car. He said the Paddock's six children sat still and quiet as he tried to make small talk, waiting for detectives to walk back into the house.

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

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