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Caregivers accused of abusing autistic man ordered to stand trial

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  • 2 men accused of abusing autistic man plead not guilty

    2 men accused of abusing autistic man plead not guilty

    Friday, September 21 2012 9:04 PM EDT2012-09-22 01:04:14 GMT
    Two men arrested after they were allegedly caught on surveillance video abusing a 23-year-old severely autistic Valley Center man for whom they were hired to provide care pleaded not guilty Friday
     
    Two men arrested after they were allegedly caught on surveillance video abusing a 23-year-old severely autistic Valley Center man for whom they were hired to provide care pleaded not guilty Friday to six charges each of cruelty to a dependent adult. 

VISTA (CNS) - Two caregivers accused of repeatedly abusing a 23-year-old severely autistic man in his Valley Center home must stand trial on multiple charges of willful cruelty to a dependent adult, a judge ruled Friday.

Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 28, and Michael Dale Garritson, 61, face nine years each in state prison if convicted, according to Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor.

After a preliminary hearing that lasted parts of two days, Vista Judge Tamila Ipema found that enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.

McDuffie, a medical assistant, and Garritson, a licensed registered nurse, were taken into custody Sept. 19 after the victim's family handed investigators more than 2,000 individual video recordings of the alleged abuse, according to San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Mark Varnau.

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, according to Varnau.

McDuffie and Garritson worked for the victim's family for more than two years, Varnau said.

The defendants will be back in court Jan. 8 for a readiness conference. Garritson's trial was set for Feb. 14. McDuffie had his trial set for Feb. 28.

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