Jurors convict Chritton on 3 charges in abuse retrial - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Jurors convict Chritton on 3 charges in abuse retrial

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Jurors have found Chad Chritton guilty of three felony charges and not guilty on a fourth.

Chritton was convicted of recklessly endangering safety, child abuse and causing mental harm to a child.

He was acquitted of false imprisonment.

Chritton was taken into custody after the hearing. A sentencing date has not been set.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Jurors in the child abuse retrial of Chad Chritton approached their fifteenth hour of deliberations, with a verdict on one of four felony charges, but no indication Friday of progress on three remaining counts.

Authorities say Chritton starved his teenage daughter, and confined her to a basement. During trial testimony, Chritton said he tried to get help for his daughter's mental health issues, became overwhelmed, but did not abuse her.

Jurors are considering charges of false endangerment, mental harm to a child, child abuse and false imprisonment.

In March, another jury found Chritton guilty of child neglect, but deadlocked on other charges.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A jury continues to deliberate into the evening in the child abuse retrial of Chad Chritton.

Closing arguments from attorneys painted very different pictures of Chritton's teen daughter's emaciated condition when she was found after running away in February 2012.

Assistant Dane County District Attorney Matthew Moeser told jurors Chritton starved his daughter, and kept her confined to the family's basement with an alarm system, but must be held accountable.

But Chritton attorney Jessa Nicholson said Chritton was overwhelmed with his daughter's mental health issues, provided her food and allowed several care providers to inspect his alarm system.

Some four hours into the jury's deliberation, jurors submitted a question about intent and the charge of reckless endangerment, one of four felonies faced by Chritton. The judge told jurors to rely on their previously provided jury instructions.

In March, a jury convicted Chritton of child neglect, but deadlocked on the other charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Chad Chritton testified Wednesday in his child abuse retrial, alternating between becoming emotional over his struggle to parent his teenage daughter, and confrontational over suggestions he failed her and worse.

The teen girl previously testified she was regularly denied food, confined to a basement, and endured extreme punishments, such as being forced to eat her feces if she defecated in the basement, which did not have a bathroom. Authorities say the then-fifteen year old girl was found in February 2012 after running away, and weighed only sixty-eight pounds.

Near tears, Chritton told jurors he brought the girl from Texas a decade ago, when he learned his former wife's new husband was a sex offender.

Chritton testified the child was rigid, cold and acted abnormally.

He also testified about interactions with social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists over several years, as he said he tried to successfully parent the girl.

Chritton said sometime after the girl's mother terminated her parental rights, the child stashed knives, and once threatened him with a knife.

Because of the threats, and also a sexual assault accusation against his teenage stepson, Chritton said he followed a psychologist's recommendation and set up an alarm system for the girl's basement room, to monitor her movements as a security precaution for family members, and her.

Chritton admitted his decision to remove the girl from Madison public schools and home school her was ill advised. "I was an absolute failure," Chritton testified.

Chritton said he reached a point where he felt at a loss as a parent.

"I didn't understand what was going on with her. We tried," Chritton said, his voice cracking with emotion.

But Chritton also deflected a question about whether he refused to allow a Madison school counselor to go into his Madison home to check on the girl's home environment, claiming he wanted to smoke a cigarette and remain outside when the counselor arrived.

The girl's stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, is serving prison time in connection to her mistreatment of the girl. The girl's stepbrother is accused of sexual assaulting her, and has been convicted of the separate sexual assault Chritton said led in part to the basement alarm system.

In March, a jury convicted Chritton of felony child neglect, but deadlocked on four other charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment. Chritton did not testify during that trial.

During cross examination Wednesday, assistant Dane County district attorney Matthew Moeser asked Chritton how he would have helped the girl if she had returned home after running away, instead of being helped by a passer-by and hospitalized. Chritton bristled at the question, raising his voice about his portrayal after the girl was found, and blaming Dane County social workers for failing to deliver enough help to him years ago.

Moeser and Chritton also engaged in a testy exchange over Chritton's claim that a court order in connection to his stepson's state supervision in the sexual assault case required him to set up the basement alarm.

2010 Facebook messages between Chritton and his former wife were also submitted as evidence, and showed while Chritton urged the woman to again become involved in his daughter's life, asked her if she would be willing to have the girl live with her.

Judge Julie Genovese said the nearly two week trial may go to the jury Thursday.

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