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Chritton's stepmother, child abuse doctor testify

Published On: Mar 11 2013 07:07:30 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 11 2013 09:45:29 PM CDT
Chad Chritton
MADISON, Wis. -

The stepmother of a Madison man accused of abusing his teenage daughter testified Monday in his trial.

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

He is accused of locking the girl known in court documents as "SLC" in his basement and depriving her of food until she wasted away to 68 pounds.

The defense called a couple of witnesses out of order, including Evelyn Chritton. The defendant's stepmother was asked to explain email exchanges submitted for evidence, but she was visibly frustrated as she testified.

Evelyn Chritton, also known as Evy, said the victim in the case stayed with her and her husband for about two months in the summer of 2007.

"She was sweet. She was a sweet kid," Evelyn Chritton said.

Chritton described situations in which SLC was tediously tidy during chores. Chritton said SLC claimed she learned those habits from her parents, Chad Chritton and Melinda Drabek-Chritton.

"I didn't find her in the least bit dangerous. In fact, I was concerned because when she was done cleaning up, there was not a speck of paper left. And it was, it was such a small speck that I wasn't concerned about," Evelyn Chritton said.

Judge Julie Genovese struck a number of Chritton's statements, and even ruled her hostile at one point.

Dr. Barbara Knox, a University of Wisconsin child abuse pediatrician, was also called as a witness. She evaluated the victim after she was found in February 2012.

Knox showed the jury a growth chart and told jurors that SLC was far below the weight and height curves. Knox said SLC would never get taller as a result.

"You have to have persistent malnutrition before your height falls off. The fact that we saw both her weight and her height fall off is a good indication of persistent starvation," Knox explained.

Contrary to the defense's argument, Knox said SLC's symptoms did not indicate an eating disorder.

"(It) clearly indicated that she was describing a situation of not being given food," Knox said.

Knox went through her list of diagnoses for SLC, which included isolation, terrorization, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The final witness was Hannah Cooley, a friend of SLC's stepbrother, Josh Drabek-Chritton. She described a night in which she visited the house, and Melinda set out a meal. Cooley said SLC refused to eat.

The prosecution will continue its case Tuesday.

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