MADISON, Wis. - The case involving a Madison couple accused of starving and torturing the man's 15-year-old daughter will go to trial.
The hearing was held on Friday afternoon. It began Tuesday, but it was postponed because the prosecution's lead witness had a sick child.
The witness, Dr. Barbara Knox, is the doctor who examined the girl last month after the teen ran away from home only wearing thin pajamas. Knox, a UW physician and child abuse expert, told the court how she believes the girl faced torture and starvation at the hands of her father and stepmother. She diagnosed the 70-pound girl as a victim of "serial child torture with prolonged exposure to definite starvation."
"If you line up 50 children, she would weigh less than the skinniest child in the group. She was off the curve," Knox said.
The girl's father, Chad Chritton, and stepmother, Melinda J. Drabek-Chritton, are accused of abusing the girl over a five-year period. Both appeared at the hearing.
Attorney William Hayes, who represented the father, objected multiple times during Knox's hour-long testimony. He has hinted that he questions the girl's mental health. He said he reviewed her story "and the word 'rubbish' came to mind."
The defense argued the young girl was mentally ill and tried to harm herself. He said that the couple had tried to get medical help for her before.
Meanwhile, Mike Vega, the Madison man who found the 15-year-old alleged victim walking along the road in early February, said he was relieved the case was moving forward.
"What I want more than anything is to make sure she's OK," Vega said. "I made a promise to her in the car (when I found her) that she's going to be ok. Ever since then things have lined up pretty well."
A preliminary hearing gave the judge an opportunity to decide whether there's enough evidence to warrant a trial. Judge Amy Smith didn't set a trial date, instead binding over the case to Judge Julie Genovese's courtroom.
The third suspect, the victim's stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, waived his aright to a preliminary hearing and is due back in court later in March. He is accused of sexually abusing the girl.
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