Chritton guilty on 3 of 4 counts in child abuse retrial

Dane Co. jury reaches decision after deliberating more than 22 hours

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:26:58 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 23 2013 02:27:39 PM CST
Chad Chritton child abuse trial starved teen torture

A jury has convicted a man on some charges accusing him of starving his daughter and locking her in his basement.

Chad Chritton was accused of locking his teenage daughter in the basement and starving her down to 68 pounds. He faced multiple felony charges, including first-degree reckless endangerment and child abuse.

Jurors on Friday convicted the Madison man of reckless endangerment, intentional child abuse and causing mental harm to a child. He was acquitted on a charge of false imprisonment.

Chritton was taken into custody without bond. He faces 34 years in prison plus probation. A sentencing date has not been set.

Chritton told the judge and jury Wednesday that the county and state should have done more for his daughter.

Closing arguments were heard Thursday.

Chritton's lawyer said he might be a bad parent, but not a criminal.

"You heard him talk about trying and failing. That's not physical abuse of a child, that's not mental harm, that's not reckless endangerment, that's not false imprisonment, it's bad parenting," Jessa Nicholson, Chritton's lawyer, said.

The prosecutor said Chritton should be held accountable for his daughter's condition.

"It's about a person who thought he could commit these crimes against his daughter and get away with it; this cloak of mental illness, this cloak of health problems," Dane County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Moeser said.

The girl, known as SLC in court documents, was found in February of last year and weighed 68 pounds. A motorist found the girl wandering the streets. The girl told investigators she had spent most of the past five years confined to the basement of her family's home.

During Chritton's testimony Wednesday, he lashed out against Dane County Social Services, which he said didn't help when it should have been obvious to them that he was unable to care for his daughter.

The jury came to a verdict on one count Thursday before ending deliberations. The verdict was on one count of recklessly endangering safety, but the judge did not release the decision until a decision was made on the three other counts.

The jury reached a final decision on Friday evening after a total of 22 hours of deliberations.

It was Chritton's second trial. A jury in March convicted him of felony child neglect but acquitted him of a misdemeanor count. That jury deadlocked on four other charges.