Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Stepfather of autistic man gave testimony in abuse trial
Registered Nurse pleads not guilty to felony charges
The step-father of a 23-year-old autistic man joined others in accusing a Registered Nurse of abusing the young man in his care.
Mark Oakley said he met Kim when her son was just a toddler, “He just turned two.” The little boy, named James Gilbert, had just been diagnosed with autism and had epilepsy, Mark remembered.
When James Gilbert was 5 or 6 years old, his parents Mark and Kim got special permission to use a kind of remote “shock treatment” on the boy, it was called SIBIS. Mark said “an apparatus” was attached to the outside of the boy’s thigh to give “a quick shock.” Even at that young age, the boy was showing “self-injurious-behavior” which the frustrated parents were trying to control.
Mark and Kim Oakley have now been married more than 20 years, and they have two other sons, Mike, 19, and Matt, 17.
Last summer, a Registered Nurse named Michael Garritson worked in the Oakley’s home in Valley Center, caring for James Gilbert. Just before his wife left for a month-long trip to Europe, Mark said he bought a new video surveillance camera with a 32 gigabyte memory card, “the biggest one I could,” and he set it up in James’ bedroom.
Mark Oakley said he is a Fire Captain for CalFire, and he was away from home working a fire from August 10 until August 18, 2012. The nurse Michael Garritson worked a twelve-hour night-shift during that time, and Garritson is now accused of inappropriate handling of his autistic patient. In a courtroom today, Mark Oakley watched a brief video clip of Garritson with stepson James, and he said, “It appears that he stuck his finger in his eye.” After watching several brief videos, the stepfather described bad or “reckless” care by Garritson, in each one.
When Mark Oakley returned from his firefighter work August 18, he noticed that James Gilbert’s left eye was swollen. There was implication that nurse Garritson must have caused the swollen eye with “poking” or “gouging” while he was trying to control James.
On cross-examination, Mark Oakley seemed surprised when the defense attorney asked him to refresh his memory by asking him to read his son Mike’s “nursing notes.” The now-19-year-old Mike Oakley had written in his caregiver’s notes: “It’s a possible bee sting.” Teenager Mike was a paid caregiver for his older, disabled brother on August 15 2012; Mike wrote “nursing notes” during his shifts, the same as the six other paid caregivers.
James Gilbert Oakley does have MRSA, his stepfather Mark confirmed; the condition was described as “a contagious staph infection” that is resistant to antibiotics. And Mark Oakley confirmed that his strong, 23-year-old autistic son “can bite at times.”
Michael Dale Garritson, 62, pleads not guilty to seven felony abuse charges.
Trial began one week ago, Monday April 8. Prosecution rested their case today, April 15, 2013, and defender Michael Washington is expected to begin his case tomorrow morning in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.
More like this:
- Garritsons are a family of nurses, the son testified — April 17, 2013
- Teenager explained taking hold of his autistic brother in trial today — April 16, 2013
- Defense will begin case Monday in alleged-caregiver-abuse trial — April 14, 2013
- Accuser in alleged abuse trial is asked to explain the other video — April 9, 2013
- Jury shown video clips alleging abuse of autistic adult — April 8, 2013