SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A judge ruled Wednesday that a defense-hired psychologist will be able to testify at the trial of a man charged with killing his girlfriend’s mother last year. Nicholas Godejohn is scheduled to be tried without a jury on Feb. 6.
Godejohn, 27, of Big Bend, Wisc., is charged with first-degree murder for the stabbing death of Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blancharde, 48, in June 2015 at her home just north of Springfield. Blancharde’s daughter, Gypsy, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last July and received a 10-year prison sentence.
Investigators believe Gypsy Blancharde and Godejohn met online and communicated secretly for three years before he came to Springfield at her request. They think Godejohn killed Dee Dee, took several thousand dollars from her house, mailed the murder knife to his home, and returned to Wisconsin with Gypsy by bus. Police arrested them at Godejohn’s home a few days after the murder.
Psychologist Kent Franks of Springfield told Circuit Judge Calvin Holden at a hearing on Wednesday that he did two mental evaluations of Godejohn at the Greene County jail. He said the murder suspect thought he was doing the right thing when he killed Blancharde, because he wanted to rescue Gypsy from her mother.
The Blanchardes’ relatives believe Dee Dee Blanchard required her daughter to act as if she was sick, and pretend to be younger than she is, so they could get sympathy and aid from charities and social service agencies. People who knew them thought Gypsy couldn’t walk and possibly was fatally ill.
The Blanchardes moved to Springfield in 2006 from Louisiana after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After they moved, they used the last name Blancharde instead of Blanchard as the rest of their family does.
Franks said Godejohn is on the autism spectrum and spent most of his time on the internet and playing video games. The psychologist described the murder suspect as more like a child than an adult. He said his IQ is 82 and he functions at the level of a 10- or 11-year-old person.
The psychologist’s findings could result in Godejohn being found guilty of a lesser charge than first-degree murder, which requires someone to deliberate before killing another person.
The judge said he would allow Franks’ testimony over objections of prosecutors, who argued Franks isn’t qualified to be an expert witness.
Godejohn waived his right to a trial by jury.