Charges dropped in runaway case after revelation of teen's age - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Charges dropped in runaway case after revelation of teen's age

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FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

There was an unexpected development Wednesday in the case of a teenager whose disappearance led to a community-wide search two months ago.

When Christopher Smithburg was finally found in the woods two days after leaving home, he told a tale of abuse, neglect and other hardships. But now there are all new questions, as it has been revealed the victim in the case is actually 18 years old - two years older than everyone first thought.

A judge has now decided to dismiss the child abuse charges against the mother, Susan Smithburg.

Christopher Smithburg took the stand Wednesday to tell his side of what happened between him and his mom before he ran away from their Nolensville farm in March.

He says the day before he ran away, his mother made him do 1,500 pushups for making toast. It was a normal punishment he said was given to him whenever he was in trouble.

Christopher Smithburg says the punishments started off small but got worse with each offense. He ran away, he said, because he didn't want to do any more and was tired of always being in trouble. But the defense says he was a teen with a history of lying, stealing and disobeying his parents.

And the entire courtroom went silent at a crucial turning point when the defense brought up the teen's real age.

"Your family re-aged you. When you came to the U.S., you were 10," said defense attorney David Raybin.

It turns out when the Smithburgs adopted Christopher Smithburg, they changed his birth date to make him two years younger.

"We could not get him into private school with children 3 to 4 years older than his grade level," Susan Smithburg said.

The family said Christopher Smithburg and his brother were malnourished when they brought them from the Philippines and were socially and academically behind other children of the same age.

Judge Ernie Williams called the shocker a Perry Mason moment of the trial, and with that, the case was dismissed.

Williams was speechless for a moment but said the child abuse charges wouldn't be valid being that the court acknowledged Christopher Smithburg is technically 18 years old.

The teen is currently in foster care, and no one could say what will happen next - if he will stay with the Department of Children's Services or not.

The district attorney's office will review the charges now to see what will be appropriate moving forward.

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