Prosecutors added eight new charges Monday against a Madison couple who allegedly confined their teenage daughter to their basement until she ran from the home in her bare feet in February.
Chad Chritton, 41, and Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 42, who had faced reckless endangerment, child abuse and child neglect charges, now face another four felony charges each: causing mental harm to a child, failure to protect a child, false imprisonment and child neglect resulting in bodily harm.
Not guilty pleas were entered for the couple in court appearances Monday. Drabek-Chritton's son, Joshua Drabek, 18, pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child and child abuse. No new charges were added against Drabek.
The 15-year-old girl, dressed only in pajamas, was found Feb. 6 by a passer-by on a street near her Treichel Street home on the Southeast Side. She weighed 82 pounds, about the average weight of a 9-year-old child, a child abuse expert testified at a hearing last month. Dr. Barbara Knox testified that the girl was a victim of "serial child torture."
The girl told police that she ate infrequently and sometimes was forced to eat her own feces as a punishment, a criminal complaint states.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred as far back as November 2006.
In addition, lawyers for the couple filed motions Monday asking that Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese dismiss the charges, alleging that a preliminary hearing last month was not held within deadlines required by law and did not establish that the couple likely committed a crime. William Hayes, who is Chritton's lawyer, also said Chritton was denied the right to cross-examine the girl because her testimony was played on video.
Drabek-Chritton's lawyer, Thomas McClure, filed a motion asking Genovese to order a medical examination by her own doctor to address kidney disease that worsened while she had been in jail. McClure wrote that Drabek-Chritton has lost more than 90 pounds since she was jailed and has been told that her kidneys may be failing, but the jail doctor will not take any action. Genovese will hear that motion on April 23.
During past court appearances, Drabek-Chritton has been brought into court in a wheelchair, but she walked into court on Monday.
Hayes also asked that Genovese release Chritton on bail because he has lost his truck driving job since being jailed and his wife will likely lose their home to foreclosure if he doesn't find work soon. In an affidavit Chritton also wrote that the house has been broken into and trashed three times while the couple has been in jail.
Genovese will hear the dismissal motions and Chritton's bail motion on May 18.
Hayes is also asking that Chritton be found indigent so that Hayes can be re-appointed as his lawyer by Dane County at a reduced rate.
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