Caregivers in autistic abuse case to stand trial

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VISTA, Calif. — Two caretakers 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.

Matthew McDuffie and Michael GarritsonAfter 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.


  • CommonSense

    How the judge determined that there was “sufficient” evidence is beyond me. Kim Oakley admitted to deleting, tampering, and even destroying evidence. The only “evidence” the prosecutors have are the admittedly incomplete video CLIPS which do not provide context to any situation. On top of that the lack of any injury through medical reports or even testimony is non existent and does not coincide with the severity of the charges. The video quality is extremely poor at best and looks jerky (perhaps bad refresh rate or framerate) causing actions to look more severe than they actually are. The judge took the easy way out of this and bent under the pressure of the media. It is despicable to see that two men’s lives are at stake, one whom devoted 8 years under the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment, are being thrown away by a judge that does not have the honor or moral courage to stand up to the bully that is the DA and Kim Oakley by dismissing the heresay that has so far been presented. The judge also denied a reasonable plea to lower bail, which is currently set at the unreasonable amount of $1,000,000. By comparison George Zimmeran’s bail was set at $1,000,000 for suspected MURDER and Jamie Gilbert did not even have any bruises/abrasions/cuts/scrapes/fractures or any physical evidence of physical harm much less ABUSE. Casey Anthony allegedly murder her infant which resulted in a $500,000 bail HALF the amount for a greater charge MURDER/NEGLECT. The judge is a spineless coward who does not deserve the power she has been given over the lives of these two innocent men. I eagerly await to see this case ruthlessly picked apart by the defense and expose Kim Oakley for the fraud she is. A jury trial will not allow the heresay and speculation presented by the DA over the past two days. I believe that these “videos” will not even be admissible in a real court hearing and thus crumbles the prosecutions entire case. Which brings me back to my initial point, how could the judge decide that enough evidence has been presented when in fact they have not presented anything at all? She didn’t, she simply did not have any courage to end this farce out of fear of reprisal upon herself. I end on this thought(and hope that somehow the judge reads this): You have done more damage to your credibility by not dismissing this non-case than you would have if you simply dismissed it and told Kim Oakley that she is a compulsive liar and the case is unfounded.

  • someone new

    We have seen so many awful things happen to children, elderly and handicapped. This abuse has to stop and it stops when we fight back and expose animals who abuse these type of people. There is no excuse for this behavior and the more people stand up against it, the more these monsters will know they can not get away with this disgusting behavior! Common SENSE is actually JASON BELANGER who has been posting all over these articles because he is MATTHEW MCDUFFIES brother in law and paying the bill for his lawyer, what a loser he is

  • aspiegarilie

    Amazing what the defense and the family of the defense will invent to shift the focus off of what is clearly on caught on tape of being beyond a reasonable doubt, the clear abuse of the defenseless autistic man. Amazing the stories and accusations that are invented in the midst of extreme denial and a lack of remorse by defendants.

  • Jenifer

    The video doesn't lie. The mom, Kim Oakley, couldn't make this stuff up, the video shows anyone who has half a brain, what the two caregivers were doing to her autistic son. The bail is appropriate. The video reminds us why. There is no more disgusting crime than preying on the most defenseless people in our society.

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