District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on Thursday (May 18, 2023), a 12-person jury in St. Tammany Parish, after deliberating for 30 minutes, unanimously found Christopher James Garretson, age 35 and of Slidell, guilty of cruelty to juveniles involving a victim under the age of 8. Judge Scott Gardner presided over the trial.
In Slidell, in September of 2022, the victim, who was seven years old at the time, was hit in the face repeatedly by the defendant. At trial, in a Children’s Advocacy video interview played for the jury, the victim said that the defendant “did this” to me, as he pointed to his face. The victim said that the defendant woke up, came into the room where he was watching TV and started hitting him “a bunch of times.” The victim sustained bruising on his forehead, bruising on his entire face and a busted lip that was so severe, it caused bruising on the inside of his mouth. He also had bruising on his leg.
The interview the police conducted with the defendant was played for the jury. When asked by detectives to give his version of the events, Garretson said he had woken up and found the victim sitting on the floor playing with coffee creamer. He said the victim started “lying” to him and “talking back” so he “popped him in the mouth.” He said he then “whooped his butt” with a belt. He admitted that he’d not sought medical treatment for the victim because he was “fine.” He later admitted to striking the victim two or three times, but that he wasn’t trying to “beat the shit out of him.” He admitted that the victim was putting his hands up to protect his face and was saying “stop.”
The defendant admitted during his interview, that when relatives arrived back at the house that day, they saw the injuries to the victim, secured the victim and then proceeded to beat the defendant up in retaliation. The relatives then sought medical treatment for the victim.
The attorney representing the defendant argued to the jury that his client was simply disciplining the child.
In closing, Assistant District Attorney Christina Fisher told the jury, “when Christopher Garretson beat his 7-year-old child repeatedly and with enough force to leave visible bruising to the child’s entire face, that is not discipline. That is cruelty.”
Sentencing is set for June 13, 2023.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Jay Adair and Christina Fisher. The case was investigated by Detective Adam Driskell of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office. The forensic interviewer from CAC Hope House was Katie Greene.
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