UPDATE: Testimony begins in Chritton child abuse case - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Testimony begins in Chritton child abuse case

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The trial in the case of a Madison man accused of torturing and starving his teenage daughter began with opening statements from the district attorney and defense attorney on Tuesday morning.

Chad Chritton, 41, is charged with seven counts of child abuse, including neglect and false imprisonment. On February 6th, 2012, Chritton's 15-year-old daughter was found walking barefoot along the side of the road near the family's home. Doctors say she was severely malnourished and weighed just 70 pounds.

Later, police say they discovered evidence of years of what they've called "serial torture", accusing Chritton and the girl's stepmother Melinda Drabek-Chritton.

In a last-minute motion request, prosecutors added "party to a crime" clauses to all seven charges and Drabek-Chritton's attorney argued she should not testify in her husband's trial, but the subpoena for her statements was upheld.

Opening statements began by giving the jury a look at what's to come in this case. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne focused on describing the day the girl was found and the conditions of the family's home. Ozanne detailed the victim's poor medical condition when she was found. She weighed less than 70 pounds and was just 4'10" tall, giving her a BMI of less than 1%.

"You're going to hear about a child that was isolated, starved, abused, maltreated and had the courage on February 6th, 2012 to run away into the cold with no shoes, no coat, only in pajamas," says Ozanne.

Ozanne told the jury the girl has thrived since she was moved out of that home. She is living in foster care and going to school now.

In defense attorney William Hayes' opening statements, he focused on the victim's struggles with her mental health, saying Chritton didn't know what to do about his daughter's problems. Hayes says Chritton was committed to getting her the help she needed.

"You can fault him about not following through every time, but then you really have to take consideration about what he was faced with, the evidence has shown you he's faced financial [problems]," says Hayes.

After opening statements, the prosecution's first witnesses took the stand, starting with Mike Vega. Vega found the girl walking on the road and called 911. He told his version of the story in detail. The 911 call was played for the jury. In that call, Vega asks the victim if she is OK, and her incoherent response is heard in the audio.

"She was crying and scared and she told me she was scared of.. she said she didn't want to go home she was scared of her step mother," says Vega.

Carol Kaufman took the stand next. She was the second person to come upon the girl, after Vega had stopped to help.

After the witnesses, the prosecution called three police officers who responded on February 6th to testify. They outlined the events that transpired from the time she was found to the time they talked with her and Chritton in the hospital.

The first day of the trial wrapped up around 4:30 p.m. The prosecution hasn't finished calling their witnesses yet. We're still expected to hear from some doctors who treated the girl along with her step brother Joshua Drabek, who is charged with sexually assaulting the victim repeatedly.

The jury is back in court Wednesday morning.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The trial in the case of a Madison man accused of torturing and starving his teenage daughter begins Tuesday morning.

Chad Chritton, 41, is charged with seven counts of child abuse, including neglect and false imprisonment. On February 6th, 2012, Chritton's 15-year-old daughter was found walking barefoot along the side of the road near the family's home. Doctors say she was severely malnourished and weighed just 70 pounds.

Later, police say they discovered evidence of years of what they've called "serial torture", accusing Chritton and the girl's stepmother Melinda Drabek-Chritton.

Tuesday morning the jury trial is expected to begin for Chritton's case. At the last minute, prosecutors added "party to a crime" clauses to all seven charges. Drabek-Chritton's attorney argued she should not testify in her husband's trial, but the subpoena for her statements was upheld.

Opening statements are expected to begin sometime Tuesday morning.

Tonight on 27 News at 5 & 6, Jennifer Kliese will recap the first day of testimony in this case.

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