SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Wisconsin man was convicted Friday in the stabbing death of a Missouri woman who forced her daughter for years to pretend to be disabled as part of a fraud scheme.
Nicholas Godejohn, 29, of Big Bend, Wisconsin, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole after being found guilty of first-degree murder. He will be sentenced in February.
Prosecutors and Godejohn’s attorneys agreed that he killed Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard, 48, at her home near Springfield, Missouri, in June 2015. The trial centered on whether he committed first-degree murder or a lesser crime.
Defense attorneys argued that Blanchard’s daughter, Gypsy Blanchard, manipulated Godejohn into killing her mother in order to escape from an abusive home life. They argued Godejohn’s, who is autistic, didn’t have the mental abilities required for premeditation, The Springfield News-Leader reported .
Gypsy Blanchard testified Thursday that she persuaded Godejohn to travel to Missouri to kill her mother. She said it was the only way she could think of to get away from the woman who forced her to use a wheelchair and convinced her she suffered from several illnesses. Friends believed for years that Gypsy Blanchard had cancer and was developmentally delayed. Gypsy Blanchard testified that her mother beat her, chained her to a bed and controlled every part of her life.
Clauddine Blanchard’s body was found after her friends noticed a post on a Facebook page stating, “That (expletive) is dead.”
Prosecutors contended during the trial that Godejohn killed the woman so he could continue a relationship with Gypsy Blanchard, who he met in 2012 on a Christian dating website. They argued the death was premediated and pushed for a first-degree murder conviction.
The couple was arrested several days after the crime at Godejohn’s home in Wisconsin. Gypsy Blanchard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2016 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In closing arguments Friday, Godejohn’s attorney Dewayne Perry described his client as a “low-functioning person with autism” who was incapable of true deliberation. Psychologists testified that Godejohn has autism spectrum disorder.
“Nick was so in love with her and so obsessed with her that he would do anything,” Perry said. “And Gypsy knew that.”
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said Godejohn was motivated by sex and a desire to be with Gypsy Blanchard.
Patterson pointed to evidence that he said showed deliberation, such as Godejohn wearing a T-shirt with “evil clowns” to scare Clauddine Blanchard and later telling a journalist that he waited outside the bedroom door for a minute thinking about his decision. He also said the couple discussed killing Clauddine Blanchard more than a year before the homicide.
“Yes, he was asked to do it,” said Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Chapman. “But he took it from there.”
Chapman said Clauddine Blanchard deserved to face consequences for abusing her daughter but that should have happened in a court of law.
Jurors had the option of finding Godejohn not guilty or guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. They deliberated for about two hours before returning with the verdict.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com