Older man accused of harming autistic man in his care

Defense attorneys complain that video evidence has been selectively edited

Opening statements are set to begin Monday morning, in a jury trial for an adult care-giver accused of harming an autistic man in his care.

In other widely publicized cases, when caregivers are accused of abusing their patients, the situation usually involves a younger person accused of abusing an older person. In this case, 62-year-old Michael Dale Garritson vigorously denies mistreating a 23-year-old man in his care, the patient is described as “severely autitistic.”

The mother of the autistic man reportedly hired up to seven caregivers to help with her son, in her home in Valley Center. The woman and her husband set up a camera to video record what went on in her son’s room, and selected portions of that video have been widely broadcast through San Diego County news media.

Defense attorneys have complained that many hours of video recordings have been edited down into selected bits, and the video that was edited-out has not been made available to defense attorneys. Garritson is represented by public defender Michael Washington.

Certain video clips seem to show an older man trying to return a tall, slender man to his bed, and the younger man appears to be resisting. The challenge for the jury of 11 women and 1 man, might be to discern exactly what is happening on the brief, grainy video clips.

When Michael Dale Garritson was made aware of the accusations, on September 19, 2012, he turned himself in to authorities, and he has been in custody ever since. Another man, Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 28, was taken into custody the same day; he is held under similar accusations regarding the same alleged victim; McDuffie’s case will be adjudicated separately. The next court date for McDuffie is set for April 18, 2013.

The jury for Garritson’s trial was seated on Thursday April 4, 2013. Opening statements are expected Monday morning, April 8, before the Honorable Judge Blaine K. Bowman, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse in Vista, California.

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