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July 25, 2023

Slidell Man Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Cruelty to a Juvenile

District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on July 24, 2023, Christopher James Garretson, age 35 and of Slidell, was sentenced by District Judge Scott Gardner to 18 years in prison for the crime of cruelty to juveniles involving a victim under the age of 8. He was sentenced as a habitual offender due to two prior felony convictions. Prior to sentencing, victim impact statements were submitted to the court by the child and the child’s foster mother.

In May of 2023, a 12-person jury in St. Tammany Parish, after deliberating for just 30 minutes, unanimously found Garretson guilty. 

In September of 2022, the victim, who was seven years old at the time, was hit in the face repeatedly by the defendant at a Slidell residence. During the course of the trial, the jury viewed a Children’s  Advocacy video interview of the victim during which the boy told the interviewer 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 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 transported the victim to a local hospital for medical treatment. The victim sustained 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.

At the trial in May, the attorney representing the defendant argued to the jury that his client was simply disciplining the child, but 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.”

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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