Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Jury: registered nurse guilty of abusing autistic man
Two felonies and four misdemeanors declared after two week trial
Today a jury declared a 62-year-old registered nurse guilty of felony abuse of a 23-year-old autistic man in his care last summer.
Michael Dale Garritson was declared guilty of two felonies today, April 22, 2013. The first guilty count is a general abuse charge which covered a month-long period of care, during parts of July and August in 2012. The other felony verdict was for one incident captured on video surveillance, it appears nurse Garritson took his patient to the floor by pulling the hair on the back of his head.
During the two-week trial, there was discussion about what exactly could be seen on the grainy video clips used as evidence by prosecutor Natalie Villaflor.
The prosecutor originally charged seven felonies, but at the last moment offered the jury the option of finding for “lesser included offenses.” Besides the two felony verdicts, jurors did choose the lesser, misdemeanor option on four charges, those were described as “finger on eye.”
The mother of the 23-year-old autistic patient, Mrs. Kim Oakley, had accused registered nurse Michael Garritson of willfully “gouging” her son’s eyes, on multiple occasions. Mrs. Oakley was the only witness the first two days of trial, and she described for the jury what she saw on video surveillance captured on a camera in her son’s room.
One of Michael Garritson’s adult sons, who is also a nurse and cared for the same patient, saw in the same video clips, “It looks like my dad grabbed his head.” The son, Jarrod Garritson, viewed video evidence and described what he saw. Witness Jarrod told the jury, “You learn tricks on how to stop a SIB.” (All of the caregivers for the autistic patient said the autistic man had episodes in which he hit himself, and the nurses called this SIB or Self Injurious Behavior.) When the video clips were repeated, Jarrod pointed out, “You notice that the SIB stopped.”
The jury completely acquitted defendant Michael Garritson of one of the abuse charges.
The defense attorney for Michael Garritson hopes the judge will sentence him to time already served. The accused man surrendered himself into custody when he became aware of the charges against him, in September of 2012. He has been in custody since then.
Honorable Blaine Bowman, the same judge who heard the trial, will pronounce sentence on May 20, 2013, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.
More like this:
- Accused nurse expected to testify in his own defense — May 7, 2013
- 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
- Jury shown video clips alleging abuse of autistic adult — April 8, 2013