Men Convicted of Abusing Autistic Man Set Free

Two men convicted of abusing a 24-year-old man with severe autism will be released from prison.

Michael Garritson, 62, and Matthew McDuffie, 28, were sentenced Monday in Vista court. They were each sentenced to one year in prison. But both men already have credit for time served, so they will be released.

Garritson received an additional three years of probation.

The victim’s mother, Kim Oakley, says she's shocked and disappointed by the sentencing. She says she was also hoping for an apology.

“I’d like to go back to my son and say, ‘the people that hurt you say they’re sorry.’ I can’t even do that,” Oakley said.

Oakley’s son Jamie has severe autism and is unable to speak. She set up hidden cameras before leaving for vacation last summer. She says the cameras captured 2,000 instances of abuse, including the men twisting her son’s arms and gouging his eyes.

“What I saw on those videos will forever haunt me,” Oakley said.

Garritson and McDuffie were charged last September. Garritson, a registered nurse, was convicted on felony charges last month. McDuffie was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts in a separate trial.

Garritson addressed the court during Monday’s sentencing. He says he had never experienced a patient like Jamie during his 30 years as an R.N.

“I know my behavior looked bad on the video, but I never tried to harm anyone, especially Jamie,” Garritson said.

McDuffie agreed.

“My actions were in no way to cause Jamie bodily harm, physical injury or death,” McDuffie said after his court appearance.

Garritson still faces several fines. A restitution hearing is scheduled for August 28.

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