Man Guilty of Locking Up Daughter for Years
Chad Chritton's lawyer claimed he wasn't smart enough to pull it off
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2013 3:00 PM CST
From left: Chad Chritton, his wife Melinda Drabek-Chritton and Joshua Drabek.   (Dane County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A Wisconsin man has been found guilty of keeping his daughter locked in the basement for 6 years, a time when she shrank to 68 pounds while scrounging for scraps and relieving herself in her own bed, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. Chad Chritton, 42, faces up to 34 1/2 years of prison and extended supervision for his crimes—which include reckless endangerment and child abuse. The case came to light after the girl, then 15, was found last year wandering the streets in her PJs after running away from home, claiming her violent stepmother had threatened to toss her down the stairs.

Chritton's lawyer argued that her client just wasn't smart enough to pull off such a conspiracy without neighbors noticing. "You think he’s a tricky, clever, wily guy?" she said. "Did he appear to have an understanding of mental health?" But a court-appointed lawyer persuaded the jury that Chritton had purposefully starved the girl, making her believe she was "damaged goods, making her blame herself for what he was doing to her." The girl's stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, is already serving 5 years in the case, and her 20-year-old son, Joshua Drabek, will stand trial next year on charges of child abuse and sexual assault.