74° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Defense rests; Chritton doesn't testify in trial

Published On: Mar 13 2013 05:34:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 10:09:54 PM CDT
Chad Chritton

Closing arguments are set for Thursday in the trial of a Madison man accused of abusing his teenage daughter.

Chad Chritton is charged with party to five felonies, including false imprisonment and child neglect resulting in bodily harm.

Dane County prosecutors have said the 15-year-old girl was locked in the basement and denied food by her family until she wasted away to 68 pounds.

In a somewhat surprising move, Chritton told the judge late Wednesday that he had decided to testify.

Chritton's decision didn't sit well with his attorney. The two left the courtroom and spoke privately.

When they returned, Chritton announced he had changed his mind and he assured the judge it was a decision he'd made, not his attorney.

Chritton said his learning disabilities prevented him from clearly following lines of questioning and previous testimony, and he didn't want to jeopardize the case.

"With my comprehension and learning disabilities, I'm getting lost," Chritton said. "If I were to testify, I don't think people would understand my answers, and I want people to know I'm innocent."

The defense, having no more witnesses to call, rested Wednesday.

The prosecution also rested after a short testimony by a rebuttal witness from Dane County Human Services.

Chritton's attorney, William Hayes, attempted to get a mistrial Wednesday, arguing the prosecution was out of line when it questioned Hayes' witness, Dr. Rick Barney. Barney treated Chritton's daughter.

Hayes argued the prosecution insinuated Chritton wasn't cooperating with authorities after he'd been arrested on suspicion of abuse.

The judge agreed with Hayes that the constitution gives an accused person the right to refuse to talk. The judge drafted a corrected response for the jury that she read, saying: "I do think that crossed a line and that we do need to give instruction to the jury so that they understand that Mr. Chritton had a constitutional right to remain silent once he was arrested."

The nearly three-week-long trial will be in the hands of the jury after Thursday's closing arguments.

Chritton had been facing six felonies but the court on Wednesday dismissed a charge of failure to act to prevent sexual assault of a child, saying there wasn't enough evidence to support the charge.

Chritton's wife, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, is charged with six felonies, including child abuse and neglect. The girl's stepbrother has been accused of sexually assaulting her.

  • iOS 8

    From Apple

    Best new Apple iOS 8 features

    Apple's iOS 8 is here, and it's packed with slick new features. Take a look at some of the best changes to the latest version of the popular mobile operating system.

  • Testing for Ebola

    REUTERS/Misha Hussain

    Common myths about Ebola

    At least eight Ebola aid workers and journalists were reportedly murdered in a remote village in Guinea in a brutal example of growing distrust locals have of foreigners coming to help stem the mushrooming health crisis. Take a look at common myths about the deadly virus.

  • Police lights file 2

    Ridiculous 911 calls

    Have you ever considered calling 911 because of a massive spider in your house? How about because a McDonald's employee got your order wrong? Take a look at some of the strangest reasons people have recently called 911.


    Events calendar

    Looking for something to do? Visit Channel 3000's events section featuring dining, food, music and family-friendly events throughout Madison and the surrounding area.

  • Get your weather app and WISC-TV3 deliver local forecasts, live radar, school closings and alerts for Madison and South Central Wisconsin to iOS or Android devices.

  • Learn more about WISC-TV

    Meet the News 3 staff, learn about our newscasts, search our job postings and find out how to contact us.