Judge refuses to reduce bail for couple accused of torture

MADISON -- For the first time, the Madison husband and wife accused of torturing and starving the man's teenage daughter appeared in court together. It was not a warm reunion.

Chad Chritton walked into a Dane County courtroom, without ever looking at his wife seated at the same table. The couples' attorneys asked a judge for bail to be thrown out or lowered.

"I can't understand why he is not out on a recognizance bond.  Who is he a threat to?" asked Chad Chritton's attorney William Hayes.  However, the judge denied the request.

Prosecutors say Melinda Drabek-Chritton and her husband denied the girl food and forced her to live in the basement. Prosecutors have also accused her stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, of sexually assaulting her.

A court commissioner last month set cash bond for the man at $22,500 and $30,000 for the woman. Their attorneys tried to persuade Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith on Friday to reduce the bond, arguing they don't have the money and won't flee.

However, Smith said they face serious charges, they appear to own a house and they've hired lawyers.

The couple's attorneys say the 15-page stomach-churning criminal complaint is based off of an incomplete investigation, and is full of contradictions. "When you are asked to draw conclusions from a partial record, it is very easy to come down with one conclusion and be wrong once more information comes out," Thomas McClure, Drabek-Chritton's lawyer said.

A preliminary hearing is set for March 13th.