Attorney: Chritton to testify in child abuse retrial - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Attorney: Chritton to testify in child abuse retrial


MADISON (WKOW) -- Chad Chritton's attorney tells 27 News Chritton will take the witness stand in his child abuse retrial.

Attorney Jessa Nicholson tells 27 News Chritton will testify Wednesday. In March, Chritton did not testify, when jurors found him guilty of felony child neglect, but deadlocked on four other felony charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

 A child abuse expert testified Tuesday, and told jurors Chritton's teen daughter was the victim of starvation.

UW-Hospital physician Dr. Barbara Knox said she became involved in the care of Chritton's then-15 year old daughter, days after the girl was found in pajamas and no shoes on a McFarland street in cold, February weather last year.

Knox testified the teen's weight of sixty-eight pounds, place on a standard growth curve, and interruption of puberty, combined with the teen saying she had been regularly denied food, was consistent with starvation. Knox said the girl's condition had to be monitored closely because her depleted state made her a risk for heart failure.

Knox said the girl told her she was afraid to leave her basement quarters to scavenge for food because she could trip an alarm and face stern punishment from family members. Knox testified the teen related punishments to include being beaten, forced to do household chores naked, and having her hair cut off in clumps by her stepmother and younger half-brothers.

Prosecutors completed their case Tuesday afternoon. 

The girl's stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton is serving a prison sentence in connection to her mistreatment of the teen. Her stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, faces a February trial for what authorities say was his sexual assault of the girl.

During cross examination, Knox conceded she rejected the girl's past, diagnosed mental health conditions as possibly influencing her stunted growth and low weight. Knox said she considered the teen's behavior and information inconsistent with any mental health condition, other than trauma from child abuse.

Chritton's attorney has said Chritton was overwhelmed by the girl's mental health issues,  received inadequate help from social service providers, and set up the basement security system as protection against possible, violent outbursts by his daughter.



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