Paulding Co. mother claims son is lying about long-term abuse - CBS46 News

Paulding County mother claims son is lying about long-term abuse

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Paul and Sheila Comer Paul and Sheila Comer
Paul and Sheila Comer in court Paul and Sheila Comer in court
PAULDING COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

The lawyer for a mother accused of locking her son in a room for years, giving him little food and water, said her client is not guilty and that the teen fabricated a tale of abuse.

"She's standing by her not guilty plea. She is innocent," said Sheila Comer's attorney, Renee Rockwell.

When asked if the Comers kept her son Mitch, 18, locked in a room at the family's home in Dallas, Georgia, with little food and water, cut off from the outside, Rockwell answered, "Absolutely not. They did not do that."

Two investigators with the Paulding County Sheriff's Office, however, testified that Sheila Comer's husband, Paul Comer, the teen's stepfather, confessed to brutally punishing the teen for years.

Paul Comer "admitted to everything," Sgt. Kyle Shelton said at a probable cause hearing for the couple Thursday at the Paulding County Courthouse.

Authorities said the couple locked Mitch Comer in a room under horrible conditions and brutally punished him for years. One of those punishments allegedly involved forcing Mitch Comer to kneel for hours with his head against the wall.

Shelton, an investigator with the crimes against children unit, testified that Mitch Comer said he was confined to a bathroom for a year.

"This house was a wreck," he said. "It was horrible. But this bathroom was clean enough to eat off the floor. And Mitch said that's all I had to do was clean."

The boy said that before being confined to the bathroom, he was locked in a bedroom.

"They made this child sleep on this mattress for a year," said Shelton. "There was nothing else in the room besides his own urine."

Authorities in Los Angeles found Mitch Comer wandering around a bus depot in September after the teen's stepfather allegedly put him on a bus in Jackson, MS.

Shelton also testified that the Comers prevented Mitch from having any contact with his two younger sisters or even seeing them for years.

"He doesn't know his sisters. They don't know him," said Shelton.

Shelton said, however, his sisters could hear their brother's screams.

Detective Kevin Morgan, also with the crimes against children unit, told the court that Mitch Comer appeared to be 12 years old when authorities found him in Los Angeles. Officers said Mitch only weighed 87 pounds.

"He wouldn't get fed much," Morgan testified. "He had to beg for food."

Mitch Comer's skin was "translucent. You could see his veins through his skin. He hadn't seen sunlight in years," Morgan said.

"Both of them conceded that was his life. He lived that way for years," Morgan said.

Morgan also told the court that Mitch Comer's sisters appeared to be undernourished as well. The girls are 11 and 13 years old. Morgan said they looked like they were 8 and 10.

The girls are in the custody of the Department of Families and Children. Mitch Comer is staying with a local family. Officers said he has gained at least 10 pounds.

Rockwell, the attorney for Sheila Comer, told CBS Atlanta News that there's no good proof of abuse.

"If you have it, bring it," she said. "Show us the chisel marks. Show us the spot where he was kicking on the door or scratching on the wall."

The Comer's next scheduled court date is Oct. 25.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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CBS Atlanta News spoke with Mitch's grandmother by phone Friday. Listen to audio CBS Atlanta News spoke with Mitch's great-grandmother by phone Friday. Listen to audio More>>

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