A Phoenix jury found a man guilty of child abuse Wednesday for forcing his grandsons on two brutal hikes through the Grand Canyon in August.
Christopher Alan Carlson, 45, pushed, choked and kicked his three grandsons during hikes that lasted more than 15 miles, according to prosecutors. The oldest, age 12, testified that the hike was so strenuous he secretly asked a hiker to call 911 after he threw up and fell to the ground.
"I needed medical attention and I was hurting and he was hitting and pushing me and calling me fat," the boy said, according to The Associated Press. "I was scared and it was hard and I was all weak and tired and kind of hurt."
Prosecutors said the Indiana man didn't allow his grandsons, ages 12, 9 and 8 years old, to eat or drink water during the hikes on Aug. 15 and Aug. 28.
A ranger who saw Carlson shoving and hitting the oldest boy during a hike Aug. 28—the same day another hiker died of heat exposure—fed them and said they all showed signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion and dehydration. Investigators said they were covered in blisters, cuts and scars.
Defense attorneys had said Carlson was just a health nut who didn't want his grand-kids eating junk.
"I suppose to an 8-, 9- or 10-year old that might seem like child abuse if you like cheeseburgers, French fires and pizza," he said. "He wanted to get them from behind the TV, the games and fast food."
Carlson was found guilty of three of six counts of felony child abuse. He had pleaded not guilty.