Weeks before Gypsy Rose Blanchard was released from prison, her ex-boyfriend filed an appeal of his conviction and life sentence for his role in the grisly murder.
Nicholas Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Blanchard's mother, Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard. Unlike Gypsy Rose, who negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors, Godejohn went to trial and was convicted by a jury.
Godejohn met Gypsy Rose on the "Christian Dating For Free" website in 2012, and the two quickly began a secret romantic relationship. Gypsy had been forced to live in a wheelchair and use a feeding tube by her mother, who suffered from factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA), also known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Gypsy's mother controlled every part of Gypsy's life, and Gypsy told Godejohn that her mother had forced her to pretend to be disabled to get money.
According to court documents, the two had plotted at least three ways to get Gypsy away from her mother by May 2014.
The latest filing is actually an appeal of an appeal. In his latest appeal, Godejohn admits to murdering the victim, saying that he chose to use a knife and asked Gypsy for duct tape to muffle the victim before traveling from his home in Wisconsin to the Blanchard home in Springfield, Missouri.
Godejohn said in the appeal that on June 10, 2015, after getting inside the Blanchards' home, he "waited a minute and thought about if he 'really wanted to do it.'" After stabbing Gypsy's mother 14 times, the couple fled to Godejohn's home in Wisconsin.
At trial, Godejohn's attorneys argued he had a diminished capacity because he has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and an IQ on the low side of average.
Immediately after his conviction, Godejohn filed an appeal of the verdict and sentence, arguing that the trial court had abused its discretion in excluding testimony from a defense psychological expert about ASD and its impact on Godejohn's ability to deliberate at the time of the murder. An evidentiary hearing on the appeal featured testimony from one of Godejohn's trial attorneys, identified in court documents as A.M., who argued that Gypsy had manipulated Godejohn into committing the murder. "She learned the art of manipulation from her mother, and that’s part and parcel of who she is."
The judge denied the initial motion for appeal, noting that "selection of witnesses is unchallengeable trial strategy, and the defense counsel is not obligated to shop for expert witnesses who might provide more favorable testimony."
In his newest appeal, filed on Dec. 5, Godejohn argues that the issue at hand is not trial strategy but ineffective counsel.
A statement said that a "review of the record leaves a definite and firm impression that he was denied effective assistance of counsel … in that trial counsel failed to act as a reasonably competent attorney under the same or similar circumstances by failing to fully investigate and present evidence from a qualified neuropsychologist specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder to support the diminished capacity defense … The claim is not expert-shopping but an unreasonable failure to investigate."
The appeal notes that Godejohn was offered a plea agreement from the prosecution for life in prison but that he went to trial because he was hoping for a sentence more closely aligned with the ten years that Gypsy received.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was released from prison on Dec. 28 after serving more than eight years of a 10-year sentence.
This story was originally published by Lauren Silver at Court TV.
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