Trial underway for caretaker accused of abusing autistic man

VISTA (CNS) – Testimony got underway Monday in the trial of a North
County caretaker who, along with another man, was allegedly caught on
surveillance video abusing a 23-year-old severely autistic man for whom they
were hired to care.

Michael Dale Garritson, 62, has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony
charges of willful cruelty to a dependent adult. Co-defendant Matthew Alexander
McDuffie, 28, also pleaded not guilty to the same charges but is to be tried

The men each face nine years in prison if convicted in their respective
trials, according to Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor.

The victim's mother was the first witness on the stand today.

Garritson, a licensed registered nurse, and McDuffie, a medical
assistant, worked for the victim's family in Valley Center for more than two
years, according to San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Mark Varnau.

They were taken into custody Sept. 19 after the victim's family handed
investigators more than 2,000 individual video recordings of the alleged abuse
of Jamie Oakley, he said.

Over a three-week period in August, the family set up a surveillance
video system in the victim's bedroom. The victim is severely autistic and does
not speak, Varnau said.

The alleged abuse included slapping, kicking and punching. It was
unclear whether any permanent damage was done to Oakley, who was 23 at the

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