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Prosecutor tells jury Chritton masked abuse, blamed others


MADISON (WKOW) -- The prosecutor in the child abuse retrial of Chad Chritton told jurors Thursday Chritton masked his starvation and mistreatment of his daughter by claiming she suffered from various mental illnesses, and failed to follow up with care givers countless times.

Assistant Dane County District Attorney Matthew Moeser delivered his closing argument using charts tracking how he said school counselors, social workers and others were blocked by Chritton from getting the girl needed help.

Authorities say the then-15-year old girl weighed only sixty eight pounds when she ran away from home in February 2012. They say she was confined to a basement, with an alarm system.

Chritton testified in his own defense, stating the alarm system was recommended by a psychologist as a security measure, and said he became overwhelmed with his daughter's problems and did not received adequate help from Dane County social workers.

Chritton's attorney will deliver a closing statement later this afternoon.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Chritton's fate on four felony charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment, later Thursday. Chritton was convicted in March in felony child neglect, but a jury deadlocked on other charges.

Stay with continuing coverage of this trial's conclusion on 27 News and at


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.


MADISON (WKOW) --- Chad Chritton took the stand today, different from his first trial.

He started his testimony by outlining his days in high school and in the U.S. Army.

He says he has suffered from what he called learning and comprehension challenges all his life.

We will have more on today's trial on 27 News at 5 & 6.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge told Chad Chritton to use a court break to decide whether he wants to go ahead with his scheduled testimony, in a trial authorities say involves Chritton's starving of his teenage daughter, and imprisoning her in a basement.

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

During testimony Wednesday, Chritton's sister-in-law said she never saw Chritton or other family members restrict the girl's food intake.

Authorities say the then-15 year old girl weighed only sixty eight pounds when she was found last year on the street after running away from Chritton's Madison home.

Chritton's attorney has said Chritton was overwhelmed with the girl's mental health and behavioral problems, and that her low weight was possibly caused by an aversion to food.

A Madison police detective testified Wednesday she found a behavioral check list for the girl on Chritton's computer. The detective testified the list included levels of rules for the girl, with the most restrictive level involving no free time, household chores, and bathroom use only with permission. Witnesses have testified Chritton and family members used an alarm system to track the girl's movements in her basement room.

The detective also testified about 2010 Facebook chats between Chritton and the child's mother in Texas, where Chritton expressed concerns about the girl's condition, asked the mother to be involved in the child's life, and wondered if the girl's mother would allow the child to live with her.

Visit for more on trial witnesses, including possibly Chritton.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The child abuse retrial of Chad Chritton is poised to turn to his testimony.

Chritton attorney Jessa Nicholson tells 27 News Chritton is scheduled to take the witness stand Wednesday.

Chritton did not testify in his first trial, when jurors found him guilty of child neglect, but deadlocked on other felony charges. Authorities say Chritton's 15-year old daughter was found last year after running away, weighing just sixty-eight pounds, and a physician specializing in child abuse testified the girl was starved.

Chritton's attorney says Chritton was overwhelmed with the girl's mental health and behavioral problems, but committed no crimes, and made food available to her.

Visit for more on Chritton's upcoming testimony.






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