2013-01-08 / Front Page

Cloverdale Man Charged With Battering, Confining Stepson

Kids Were Removed, Placed In Custody Of Maternal Grandmother
by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

Michael Shane Witt Michael Shane Witt A Cloverdale man’s invitation to Putnam County and Cloverdale police officers backfired after officers discovered evidence of cruel confinement, neglect and physical abuse on December 29th.

Michael Shane Witt, 33, remains incarcerated at the Putnam County Security Center where he was booked on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent, battery to a minor causing bodily injuries and domestic battery.

Following an initial court appearance in the Putnam County Superior Court on January 2nd, Witt entered a not guilty plea to each count before Judge Denny Bridges. The judge also appointed Scott Adams as Witt’s public defender, beginning with his February 6 pre-trial conference. A no contact order was also issued by the judge on behalf of Witt’s wife, April Witt, and his two stepchildren.

According to a police report included in the probable cause affidavit, Witt contacted police and invited officers into his home for a full investigation following an incident with his estranged wife, April Witt.

Mr. Witt told officers he had disciplined his 10-yearold stepson earlier in the evening for purposely spilling sugar on the kitchen floor. However, Witt said he ‘poked’ his stepson on top of the head, while his stepson later told officers and Department of Child Services representatives that discipline involved a ‘knuckle punch’ and verbal abuse.

While speaking with April Witt in a back bedroom area, officers observed a strong odor of urine and feces coming from a closed door with a rectangle cut out and an extension cord coming out of the room. Officers noted the odor became much greater once the locked door was opened. Officers discovered a stool with a circle cut out of the middle, with a trash can, including a trash bag beneath the stool. Urine and feces were observed inside the trash bag.

Mrs. Witt told officers ‘It’s just where we put the kids to play once in a while and give them a chance to be by themselves.’

When officers explained they felt differently about the situation, Mrs. Witt exclaimed to Mr. Witt, ‘You see, Shane, this is why you don’t call the police. Thanks, now look at what you’ve done. They’re going to take the kids away.’

Officers also observed Mr. Witt talking to himself, his television and pictures on the walls of the home, stating ‘They are not going to do this. I have them here in my control and you as my witness.’

During an interview with a DCS representative, one of the children stated that Mr. Witt puts them in the back room for punishment and locks the door on them, not allowing them to come out to use the bathroom and that they would have to use the ‘bathroom’ he made for them. They would be kept in the locked room for long periods of time and admitted the urine in the bucket was his from a week ago. The child also added that Mr. Witt ‘hits knuckles to the head about 18-20 times a day’ to himself and others.

The children were removed by Child Protective Services and placed in the custody of their maternal grandmother.

Michael Shane Witt faces a Class C felony charge of neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony charge of battery causing bodily injury, and a Class A misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. If convicted, he faces three to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

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