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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.

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Comments

observer1 April 22, 2013 @ 4:30 p.m.

Well deserved, it's been coming for a long time. Too long. I only hope his punishment will fit the crime. He's completely oblivious to what he does to people. No accountablility for what he does. Maybe now he'll take notice and take a look at his behavior, it's gotten him into trouble multiple times in multiple places and jobs but he's always gotten away with it, not this time. I hope his poor family will be able to breathe without his oppressive personality around.

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OCnurse April 22, 2013 @ 10:26 p.m.

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scottcle April 23, 2013 @ 12:50 a.m.

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OCnurse April 23, 2013 @ 6:02 a.m.

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Visduh April 23, 2013 @ 7:23 a.m.

Two felony counts and the defense wants his sentence to be limited to less than a year already in custody? Maybe, but that seems most unlikely. Garritson, I'd have to assume, is now toast as a RN. And that was his livelihood, so now he's likely broke and with no job prospects anywhere.

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observer1 April 23, 2013 @ 12:08 p.m.

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Eva Knott Dec. 20, 2013 @ 3:45 p.m.

Kim and Mark Oakley asked a judge for more than $8000 restitution from the man convicted of mishandling their disabled son. Kim Oakley wanted more than $1000 for what she described as “massage therapy” for her severely autistic son; that request was denied. Next Mark Oakley claimed more than $6500 in lost wages, he said he missed work to be in the courthouse. However, Honorable Judge Blaine Bowman checked the calendar and disallowed claimed days that trial was not actually in session, for example Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays. The judge did allow compensation of $408 in lost wages to Mark Oakley. Kim Oakley also requested $179 compensation for a new surveillance camera to be placed in her afflicted son’s room; the judge granted that request. Michael Dale Garritson, 62, was ordered to pay $587 total restitution to the Oakleys at the rate of $25 per month. His attorney stated that Garritson is no longer able to find work and has no income, today, December 20, 2013.

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