Jury selected for mother's murder trial

Date: 2008-05-28

Jury selected for mother's murder trial

Mandy Locke, Staff Writer
 
SMITHFIELD - Twelve Johnston County residents have been selected to decide whether Lynn Paddock is guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her 4-year-old adoptive son Sean.
Lawyers will search for two alternate jurors today before hearing opening arguments in the trial.

Four men and eight women will decide her fate. Paddock could spend the rest of her life in jail if convicted of first-degree murder.

The jurors are parents and grandparents, a musician and a biologist. For a day and a half, prosecutors and Paddock's lawyers grilled potential jurors about how they disciplined their children and where they went to church on Sundays.

Religion and child-rearing are central to the case. Sean was the youngest of six foster children that she and her husband, Johnny, adopted starting in 1996.

As Paddock's household grew, she sought advice on how to control her children. She turned to Michael Pearl, an evangelical minister from Tennessee who writes books teaching parents how to rear godly, submissive children. She collected his literature in notebooks and chatted online with other parents.

Her oldest adopted child told a judge this week that Paddock whipped them with plastic plumbing pipe, withheld food and forced them to exercise for hours.

Sean died by suffocation after being wrapped so tightly in blankets that he couldn't breathe. Paddock told deputies that she bound him to keep the boy from wandering through their farmhouse at night.

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

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