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Dad pleads guilty so son doesn't have to testify

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Case closed on unique domestic violence situation

By Bob White

By BOB WHITE

bwhite@thenewsenteprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — Saying his children had suffered too much already, a defendant says he pleaded guilty last week to charges stemming from a domestic violence case solely to keep his son from having to testify against him in Hardin District Court.

Richard Lynch, a 41-year-old West Point-area man, had been jailed since March on the charges when he pleaded guilty last Friday to violating a judge’s no contact order and acts of domestic violence.

Released from jail upon his plea, Lynch told The News-Enterprise on Wednesday that his plea was made to save his kids from any more trauma.

“They were going to make my son testify against me after his mother just died,” Lynch said. “The kids went to their mom’s funeral without having me there with them. They’ve been through enough.”

After spending a month in the jail, Lynch learned his wife, Lana J. (Woodrum) Lynch, 40, died of natural causes on April 7.

He had been jailed three times since December after Lana Lynch made claims of domestic violence against him.

The third case was brought against Lynch in March for what West Point Police claim was Lynch’s unlawful contact with his estranged wife in February. Phone calls to his wife, Jones said, were made by Lynch in violation of a judge’s no contact order.

Unlike the initial cases, which set bond at $1,000, a Hardin District judge set bond at $5,000 cash when the claim of a Domestic Violence Order violation surfaced.

Unable to posts bond, Lynch remained in jail after being arrested March 25.

Three weeks after his arrest on the third charge, Lynch’s wife died of natural causes.

Without a victim to testify on the allegations of domestic violence, Lynch and his Department for Public Advocacy attorney, Heather Strotman, moved to dismiss the case.

“According to rules of evidence, the state has nothing left that’s admissible to court,” Strotman said. She also noted a perceived pettiness of Lynch’s alleged violation.

“The violation they claim is a phone call,” she said.

Prosecutor Don Jones would not agree to dismiss the case.

“The crime’s the same,” despite the victim’s death, he said. Jones also noted the allegations of repeated violations.

There was another witness available to testify, Jones said, meaning dismissal of the case due to the wife’s death would be premature. The other witness: the couple’s 11-year-old son.

The threat of having his son, saddened after his mother’s death and confused by his father’s incarceration, testify was the breaking point for Lynch.

“He’s been through enough already,” he said.

Not wanting his son to appear in court, Lynch opted to plead guilty to violating the judge’s no contact order and acts of domestic violence alleged by the two other pending cases. Those cases were merged upon his plea.

In exchange for the plea, Lynch was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 10 months of that term suspended. Credited for 59 days jail time, Lynch was released after admitting guilt, court records reflect.

“I would not have pled if they wouldn’t have done that,” Lynch said of the prosecutor’s threat to have a son testify against his father.

For Lynch, life doesn’t go back to normal immediately. The children now reside with a maternal aunt awarded temporary custody after their mother’s death and their father’s incarceration.

Admitting to personal flaws, Lynch said it will be a long time before life for him or the children can be restored to anything close to normal.

“This is like living a nightmare,” he said.

Lynch said he plans to visit his wife’s grave Saturday — the same date they wed this time last year.

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.