Video released of tortured Madison teen talking to police
the WTMJ News Team & Tom Murray
Tom Murray reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
MADISON - The judge in a torture case of a Madison teen girl has released video of her interview with police.
The two-hour video shows the 15-year-old girl speaking with a soft, high, raspy voice to a detective.
She says her stepmother physically assaulted her and withheld food, and that she was confined in the basement of the family's Madison home
The video shows a small room. The police detective sits on the left side of the screen. The 70-pound, underweight 15-year-old girl is the right. Investigators say she is the victim of prolonged torture in her own home.
Detective: "What's this here?"
Girl: "That's the sink I go over to drink water and bathe."
Detective: "OK. Does it have hot and cold water?"
Girl: "They shut the hot water off."
TODAY'S TMJ4 blurred the girl's face to conceal her identity. The girl held a teddy bear as she described being kept in the basement. She said her parents deprived her of food and made her afraid to go upstairs to go to the bathroom.
"I just don't even want to go back there," the girl told the detective.
The teenager's father Chad Chritton and stepmother Melinda Drabek-Chritton were in court for a preliminary hearing Tuesday. That hearing was put on hold while their attorneys argued that the video, which is considered to be a key piece of evidence, should not be made public.
"That's just going to generate an incredible amount of media attention," argued the father's attorney, William Hayes. "For what purpose?"
After taking hours to consider the request, the judge did not agree.
"While I appreciate the sensitivity of the information contained within this recording, I also recognize that this is a public hearing," Judge Amy Smith said in court.
The father and stepmother are scheduled to be back in court for their preliminary hearing on Friday. The judge is expected to use the investigation video as a primary piece of evidence in deciding whether or not prosecutors have enough to proceed to trial.
"We have a child victim here, and we're looking out for the child," said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
The defense argued that the victim should have be present in the courtroom.
"We would have crossed examined her if she would have appeared in court. You cannot cross
examine a movie. No possible way you can do it. It's not meaningful," said Hayes.
Both Chad Chritton and Melinda Drabek-Chritton face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted.