Chad Chritton, whose 15-year-old daughter told authorities she was starved, abused and confined to a basement, was convicted Friday night of felony child neglect after 19 hours of deliberation by a jury over two days.
Chritton, 41, of Madison, also was acquitted of one count of misdemeanor child neglect. But for Chritton, the case may be far from over.
The jury of 10 women and two men deadlocked on four other felony charges, meaning that Chritton could be retried on the charges at a later date.
District Attorney Ismael Ozanne was circumspect afterward when asked whether he would retry the charges, which include first-degree reckless endangerment, child abuse, false imprisonment and causing mental harm to a child. Ozanne said only that he is "looking to retry" the charges.
"The next case we have is Melinda Drabek’s, that’s our next concern," Ozanne said.
Ozanne was referring to Chritton’s wife, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 43, whose trial on similar charges will begin April 8.
Chritton’s sentencing on the felony child neglect conviction would be held after trials for Drabek-Chritton and her son, Joshua Drabek, who is scheduled to be tried on sexual assault charges in June, and after a possible retrial of Chritton on the charges on which the jury was deadlocked.
The child neglect conviction carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Chritton’s lawyer, William Hayes, said after the verdicts that he did not expect the jury to do what it did.
"I had no idea what the jury was going to do," he said. Hayes said he wasn’t happy with the result because his client was convicted of a crime. But he said he was grateful that the jurors took the time over the three-week trial to listen carefully to the evidence and give it careful consideration during deliberations.
Hayes said he assumed Ozanne would prosecute Chritton again, "and then we’ll just have to gear up and go through it again."
It was apparently a difficult deliberation for the jury. In notes to Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese, the jury indicated that it was deadlocked within about an hour after deliberations started Thursday afternoon.
The jury went home about 12:45 a.m. Friday and returned about 10 a.m., and by about 7:50 p.m. jurors were asking whether they could go home and return Saturday for more deliberations. But asked by Genovese whether more deliberations were likely to break the deadlock, the jury answered "no."
At that point, Genovese brought the jury into the courtroom and read verdicts on two of the charges and declared mistrials on the other four charges. Jurors declined to comment on the deliberations after the verdicts were read.