Chritton's friend testifies in his defense - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chritton's friend testifies in his defense

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The defense made its case in the trial of Chad Chritton, the Madison man accused of starving his daughter.

The defense called Chritton's long-time friend Michael Ellis who testified that he never saw Chritton yell at or hurt his daughter, known as SLC, despite accusations that Chritton had attacked the girl.

Ellis says he's known Chritton for 10 years and was the best man in Chritton's wedding when he married Melinda Drabek-Chritton in 2010.

Ellis testified that in the past few years, he visited the Chritton home twice a month for family celebrations and dinners. Chritton is accused of keeping his daughter in the basement with no food or a bathroom, but Ellis says he saw the girl upstairs and outside.
    
Ellis testified that most of the time he was there, he saw Chritton offering SLC food that the girl ate.

"[SLC]'s eaten most of the time. There was one time that she didn't because she was sick," says Ellis. "She was offered food all the time that I had been there."

Ellis testified that he had been at the Chritton home a number of times for birthday celebrations, but never one for SLC.

In previous testimony, witnesses have said SLC was often seen outside in the winter without warm clothing. When asked about whether SLC had warm clothes to wear, Ellis testified that his family gave SLC two bags of clothing that no longer fit his own daughter.

The defense also called one of Chritton's neighbors to the stand, Dorene Barlow who lives down the road. Barlow testified that her son went to school with SLC and had an encounter with her once, when the girl showed up at her doorstep.

"[SLC] had a backpack and a pillow and said she was moving out of her parents house and said she was going to come and live with us," says Barlow. "Not two minutes later her dad showed up right behind her knocking on our door and kind of gave us an explanation of what was going on."

Barlow testified that Chritton and SLC both said they got in a disagreement about something, but said that SLC did not seem angry with her father.

Also Thursday, the prosecution called its final witness, Dr. Ryan Herringa. The UW child psychiatrist has been treating SLC since she escaped the home in February 2012. Herringa testified that he diagnosed the girl with PTSD as a result of trauma and abuse. Herringa said SLC initially suffered from nightmares and memories of her abuse and was constantly worrying about what might happen to her. Herringa testified SLC also suffered from insomnia and severe anxiety when talking about living in the Chritton home.

Herringa mentioned what SLC had told him about an interaction with her father.

"[SLC] said her father had been choking her and then while choking her slammed her head back into the wall and she described that as an experience where she feared for her safety, she feared for her life, and that was the most traumatic experience that she brought up in our sessions related to her father," says Herringa.

Chritton's friend Ellis testified that he never saw Chad Chritton yelling at or hurting SLC while he was there.

Herringa testified that he did not see any symptoms of other disorders the defense has said SLC was previously diagnosed with, like anorexia and autism. He said SLC has made tremendous progress since last year, but still is at risk of symptoms of PTSD returning.

The doctor was the final witness for the prosecution, which has now rested its case. The defense will continue calling witnesses Wednesday morning, planning to wrap the trial by the end of the week.

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