Exclusive interview with jurors in Chritton child abuse trial - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Exclusive interview with jurors in Chritton child abuse trial


MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time, we're hearing from some of the hung jury in the trial for a Madison man accused of torturing and starving his daughter. The trial ended last Friday, with no decision on four counts.

In an exclusive interview with 27 News, four of the twelve jury members explain the difficult deliberations and resulting deadlock they say took an emotional toll.

For three weeks, 12 Dane County residents were tasked with deciding whether Chad Chritton is guilty on five felony counts and one misdemeanor charge related to child abuse. His daughter, known as SLC, was found last February, severely malnourished. The jury heard from dozens of witnesses, including medical experts, family members, neighbors and even the victim herself.

"There were a lot of contrasts and really emotional highs and emotional lows in the case, and I think that's what was so exhausting by the end of the day," says Juror #15.

Once testimony wrapped up, the jurors set to work deliberating on those six charges. In the end, the jury unanimously found Chritton guilty of felony child neglect for mistreating SLC but came down with a not guilty verdict on misdemeanor child neglect. The jurors, who are not being named for privacy reasons, explained how they came to those decisions.

"We kind of read through the charges and we kind of deciphered the meanings as to what we should act upon," says Juror #4. "What people didn't realize was there were guidelines, restraints for timelines and the misdemeanor charge had a separate timeline than the felony charge that we were able to find him guilty on. With the misdemeanor charge, we could see the evidence where he had sometimes tried to do something."

Count 3, misdemeanor child neglect, was limited to the time period between November 2006, when SLC moved in with Chad Chritton and his family, to March 26, 2008. The count asks the jury whether they believed Chritton failed to be responsible for the welfare of his daughter. These jury members say there was evidence he tried to get SLC the help she needed.

"That's when he was actually getting her into a doctor, seeing a therapist, not a physical doctor I don't believe," says Juror #8. "Social workers trying to help her get a little stable in the house."

On four other counts, including false imprisonment, recklessly endangering safety, mental harm to a child and intentional child abuse, the jury couldn't agree after two long days of deliberations.

"We were trying to make some kind of a compromise, because we realized we needed to get through these six counts and we had basically two people that were way the other direction," says Juror #14. "It was just one of the most frustrating, emotional things I think most of us have ever gone through."

The group says they spent hours pouring over notes they took during testimony heard throughout the trial. The jurors say they did have a majority who favored a guilty verdict on all counts, but they couldn't reach a unanimous vote, which is required by Wisconsin state law.

"It started to become frustrating because at one point it felt like...we weren't going anywhere and we in fact were brought back into the courtroom and the judge did have to tell us you are not to be obstinate," says Juror #15.

The jurors say after leaving Friday night with a mistrial, they were heartbroken to not have a decision after three weeks of work.

"I was so frustrated and so upset you know I cried my whole way home because I knew we'd failed," says Juror #4.

"I think we all gave it everything we had and we fought the good fight, frankly I do believe that," says Juror #15. "[There were] factors beyond our control that got in the way of the verdicts."

27 News did reach out to all 12 jurors who deliberated. Some declined to talk with us for privacy reasons and others didn't respond to phone calls or emails, including the jury members who the four interviewed say held things up in deliberations.


MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time, we're hearing from some of the jurors involved in the trial for the Madison man accused of starving and imprisoning his teenage daughter.

It's been nearly a week since a 12-person jury couldn't agree on verdicts in four of the six child abuse related charges brought against Chad Chritton, 41. The jury did reach a unanimous decision to find Chritton guilty of felony child neglect and not guilty of misdemeanor child neglect.

In a 27 News exclusive interview, four of those jury members sit down with 27 News reporter Jennifer Kliese to talk about the deliberations, explain the decisions and the stalemate that forced a mistrial in this case.

On 27 News at 5 & 6, we'll share parts of the discussion.

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