Expert in Chritton trial: Teen girl was starved - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Expert in Chritton trial: Teen girl was starved


MADISON (WKOW) -- A child abuse expert testified Tuesday in the retrial of Chad Chritton, and told jurors Chritton's teen daughter was the victim of starvation.

UW-Hospital physician Dr. Barbara Knox said she became involved in the care of Chritton's then-15 year old daughter, days after the girl was found in pajamas and no shoes on a McFarland street in cold, February weather last year.

Knox testified the teen's weight of sixty-eight pounds, place on a standard growth curve, and interruption of puberty, combined with the teen saying she had been regularly denied food, was consistent with starvation. Knox said the girl's condition had to be monitored closely because her depleted state made her a risk for heart failure.

Knox said the girl told her she was afraid to leave her basement quarters to scavenge for food because she could trip an alarm and face stern punishment from family members. Knox testified the teen related punishments to include being beaten, forced to do household chores naked, and having her hair cut off in clumps by her stepmother and younger half-brothers.

Prosecutors are expected to rest their case Tuesday afternoon.

Chritton, who convicted of felony child neglect in March, is being retried on four other felony counts after the March jury deadlocked on those charges.

The girl's stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton is serving a prison sentence in connection to her mistreatment of the teen. Her stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, faces a February trial for what authorities say was his sexual assault of the girl.

Chritton's attorney has said Chritton was overwhelmed by the girl's mental health issues, and received inadequate help from social service providers.

Chritton's attorney also said Chritton is prepared to testify, although a decision on whether he takes the witness stand has not been made. Chritton did not testify in his first trial.



MADISON (WKOW) -- The two, young half brothers of a teenage child neglect victim testified Monday in the retrial of Chad Chritton on charges including felony child neglect, and false imprisonment.

Authorities say Chritton helped starve his teen daughter, and confined her to a basement. When the then-15 year old girl was found after running away last year, she weighed only sixty-eight pounds.

One of her half-brothers, now nine, took the witness stand, but most of his testimony was contained in a videotaped interview played for the jury. The boy said he was aware of a basement alarm system, and said his teen half-sister stayed in the basement, and did not want to trip the alarm system because the sound was disturbing to her.

A jury in March deadlocked on four felony charges against Chritton, although it did convict him of neglect. Chritton's wife, and the teen's stepmother, Melinda Drabek Chritton, is serving prison term in connection to her mistreatment of the girl.

Dane County Judge Julie Genovese Monday dismissed a woman juror, who had a family health emergency. There remains fifteen jurors, with three to be designated later as alternates.


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