Girl's foster mother testifies about her progress in Chritton trial

Man accused of abusing, starving daughter

Published On: Mar 08 2013 08:19:57 AM CST
Chad Chritton
MADISON, Wis. -

As the trial continues for a Madison man accused of locking his emaciated teenage daughter in the basement, the girl's foster mother testified Thursday about the girl's remarkable progress since being removed from her home.

Chad Chritton is charged with party to six felonies, including false imprisonment and child neglect resulting in bodily harm. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told jurors that the 15-year-old girl was denied food and locked in the basement by her family until she wasted away to 68 pounds.

The girl, only identified as SLC, is being cared for by a foster family since she was discovered after she ran away from her east side home last February, barefoot in pajamas with no coat. She told witnesses she was escaping her abusive stepmother.

The girl's foster mother, who WISC-TV isn't identifying to further protect the girl's identity, said SLC used to be skinny and shy, but since authorities removed her from the Chritton home she has flourished.

The foster mother testified that SLC is excelling in extracurricular activities and school.

"She participated in cross-country this fall, and she learned how to play the flute this summer," the foster mother said. "She's getting mostly As and Bs and an occasional C and, on some tests, she'll do worse than that, but she gets to retake them and she'll improve her grade."

Chritton had been homeschooling the girl, but testimony indicates his daughter was so behind socially and academically, the 15-year-old started school last year in fifth-grade.

Her foster mother's testimony countered the defense's argument that the girl has a learning disability.

"She doesn't offer any behavioral difficulties for the staff. I think the only concern is she's very quiet," the foster mother said. "She and I talked and marveled at the idea of where she had come, where she was when she first came."

The woman testified that in the year they've been together, SLC's weight went from 68 to 119 pounds.

Chritton reportedly fed his daughter oatmeal, food her foster mother said SLC refuses to eat, but otherwise has healthy eating habits.

On Thursday, prosecutors also showed photos of where Madison police testified the victim slept.

Detective Lindsey Ludden arrested Chritton and his wife last February and returned with a search warrant.

Ludden testified Thursday about photos of the family's living room and pantry. Ludden described a photo of what the girl slept on in the basement.

"That was the feather bed that was on the bed as a mattress and, in addition to the staining, it appeared it was moldy with green spots," Ludden said.

SLC is also expected to testify in the trial, which is expected to enter a third week.