One of the caregivers caught on tape repeatedly abusing a non-verbal man with severe autism in Valley Center has had brushes with the law in the past.
Caregiver Michael Garritson, 61, along with Matthew McDuffie, 27, were caught on tape allegedly abusing Jamie Oakley, 23, hundreds of times while he was under their care, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
After noticing signs of abuse Jamie’s parents, Kim and Mark Oakley, installed a surveillance camera in Jamie’s room, which recorded Garritson and McDuffie abusing Jamie over the course of about a month.
"There are slaps, kicking, punches and a lot more [on the tapes]. That’s all I can say. It’s not good,” said Kim.
The footage was turned over to detectives and Garritson and McDuffie were taken into custody Wednesday, investigators said.
On Thursday, new information was discovered about Garritson’s past run-ins with the law.
After running a records search, NBC 7 found that Garritson was tried for second-degree murder back in the in 1980s in connection with the death of a 13-month-old boy who was under his care.
A jury deadlocked 11 to one in that case and a mistrial was declared.
Then, in 2002, more than 150 dogs were taken from Garritson’s home in Valley Center. Documents said the dogs were living in filthy conditions, being bred and sold online and at pet stores.
In that case, Garritson pleaded guilty to felony animal neglect and received probation for three years.
NBC 7 also found that Garritson is the father of an elite running family who was recently in the spotlight. Last year, two of Garritson’s sons were mauled by a pack of pit bulls while they were running near Valley Center Middle School.
NBC 7 reached out to the Garritson family Thursday night, but they declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the Oakleys said they are in utter shock over the abuse of their son caught on tape.
The parents said Garritson and McDuffie cared for Jamie for almost two years and the family never suspected the abuse, or that one of the professional caregivers had a troubled past.
“You look online and their license shows that they’ve never had anything against them, so how are you supposed to know?” said Kim.
The Oakleys said they checked into Garritson’s background before hiring him, even asking his employer about his work ethic.
“[We asked] ‘Hey, can you tell me about this guy? Have you ever had any problems?’ They said, ‘He’s one of our best nurses,’” recalled Mark.
Garritson and McDuffie appeared in court on Friday and entered not guilty pleas. The judge kept their bail at $1 million each, despite being asked by a public defender to decrease it to $100,000.