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Retrial starts in Madison starved-teen case

Chritton faces 5 felony counts in addition to child neglect conviction

MADISON, Wis. - Retrial starts in Madison starved-teen case

Dane County prosecutors are once again making their case against a Madison man accused of torturing his daughter.

Back in March a jury couldn't agree on a verdict for Chad Chritton, 42, who was convicted of one count of child neglect for the treatment of his daughter, known as SLC in court documents.

Chritton is being retried on five felony counts, including endangering safety, false imprisonment, child neglect, child abuse and failure to prevent a sexual assault.

"I'm here to tell you about five years of abuse, imprisonment and maltreatment," Ismael Ozanne, Dane County district attorney, said.

During the opening statements both sides began laying out their case. Prosecutors argued Chritton and his wife, Melinda Drabeck Chritton, locked his 15-year-old daughter in the family's basement without food or a bathroom.

"SLC was sneaking out through the basement windows and eating food out of a garbage can, then sneaking back into the family's home through the kitchen," Ozanne said.

Chritton's lawyer argued the girl's confinement was because of behavior problems. They also talked about her mental state, saying her stepfather in Texas sexually abused her before she came to live with her father in Madison in 2006, and doors were rigged with alarms for her own safety.

"She had been found with a knife standing over Chad, and they don't want that to happen again. These alarms aren't intended to confine her. There was never a time when the door was locked and she couldn't open them," Chritton's lawyer said.

The first person to take the stand Tuesday was the man prosecutors said saw the girl wandering down the street barefoot in February 2012.

"She mentioned she had a medical condition. I believe she said pica if memory serves me right. I don't know if that's it or not. She also said she scratched herself all the time," Mike Vega, the man who found SLC, said.

Several police officers testified the teenager looked like she was 10- or 11-years-old when they met her. Prosecutors also showed photos of how the girl looked when she arrived at the hospital.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Drabek Chritton entered a plea deal earlier this spring. She's serving five years in prison. Her son, Joshua Drabek Chritton, the girl's stepbrother, will stand trial early next year on charges he sexually assaulted the girl.

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