SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Johnny Paddock met paramedics in his yard the day his son Sean stopped breathing.
Hurry. This way. My son’s in the kitchen, Paddock told Chris Credle, a Smithfield paramedic.
The frantic details from the morning of 4-year-old Sean’s death emerged Tuesday at the first-degree murder trial of his mother, Lynn Paddock. She is accused of torturing her adopted son by binding him in blankets so tightly he couldn’t breathe.
On Tuesday, Credle and two other rescueworkers 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. 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 of 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 rescueworker, 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 rescueworkers 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.
AT THE TRIAL
A judge ruled that Lynn Paddock’s youngest children couldn’t be spared testifying before her in court. Doctors had urged Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins to let Paddock’s 9-, 10- and 11-year-old children testify over live video or to send Paddock to another room while the children addressed jurors.
But Jenkins wouldn’t allow it, fearing that appellate courts could overturn the jury’s decision and force the children to testify at a second trial. Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said prosecutors must now consider each child’s needs before deciding whether any or all of them will testify.
The trial will resume this morning. Jurors are expected to hear from the Johnston County sheriff’s deputies first dispatched to the home the day Sean Paddock, 4, died.