UPDATE: Stepmother takes deal in Madison starved girl case - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Stepmother takes deal, pleads guilty in Madison starved girl case






"When you plead no contest to something it's because you don't feel you're ultimately going to get a fair trial," says Thomas McClure. "Because of the weight of the community opinion on this, I think she felt it was time to put an end to it."

McClure says he agreed with the decision to accept the plea deal.

Now, Drabek-Chritton will await sentencing and remain out on bail until that court appearance. Drabek-Chritton faces up to 25 years in prison for both charges and a maximum fine of $50,000. For all six counts, it would have been more than 55 years and $105,000.

The district attorney's office is still working on what's next for Chad Chritton, who watched the court proceeding Monday along with his attorney. Chritton's trial ended in a guilty verdict for felony child neglect, a not guilty verdict for misdemeanor child neglect, and a hung jury on four other counts. Chritton faced the same six child abuse charges as his wife.

On Monday, Drabek-Chritton's attorney mentioned that his client goes just by Melinda Drabek, even though she's been referred to by her husband's last name throughout the case.




MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison woman accused of starving her teenage stepdaughter has accepted a plea deal just hours before her trial was set to begin.

Jury selection was scheduled to start Monday morning in the case against Melinda Drabek. Instead, the defense and prosecution worked out a deal and Drabek entered no contest pleas to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and causing mental harm to her stepdaughter.

Both charges are felonies carrying a combined maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

A sentencing date was not immediately set.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop four other felony counts.

Investigators say the suspect and her husband, Chad Chritton, who is the girl's father, kept the girl locked in their basement, tortured her and starved her. When found, authorities say the girl weighed 68 pounds.

Last month, a jury found Chad Chritton guilty of child neglect and not guilty on another count. They also could not reach verdict on several other charges.
Chad Chritton has not been sentenced and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne did not comment after Monday's court proceedings on whether the plea deal struck with Drabek would impact plans for a retrial of Chad Chritton.

27 News' Jennifer Kliese will have more on the proceedings tonight on 27 News at 5 and 6.


MADISON (WKOW) – Prosecutors and defense attorneys are set to choose jurors for the trial of a Madison woman accused of starving her teenage step-daughter.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday morning and the trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

Investigators say the woman, Melinda Drabek, and her husband, Chad Chritton who is the girl's father, kept the girl locked in their basement and starved her down to 68 pounds. 

Authorities say the teenage girl ran away from the house in February 2012 and a passing motorist found her wandering the streets and called police.

Last month, a jury found the girls' father guilty of child neglect.  Chad Chritton has not been sentenced.


MADISON (WKOW) -- At the last minute, the Madison woman accused of abusing her stepdaughter accepted a plea deal to avoid trial.

Jury selection was supposed to begin Monday morning in the trial for Melinda Drabek-Chritton. Instead, she pleaded no contest to two felony child abuse charges. Drabek-Chritton is accused of locking up and starving her stepdaughter, known as SLC, who authorities say weighed less than 70 pounds when she ran away from home last February.

The six initial charges included false imprisonment and neglect, but the deal requires she only would be found guilty of first degree recklessly endangering safety and causing mental harm to a child.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne wouldn't say much about why those two charges were chosen, but said the charges were appropriate and served the alleged victim in this case.

Drabek-Chritton's defense attorney says his client agreed to a plea deal because after the three week trial for her husband Chad Chritton, he says she couldn't get a fair trial.

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