Paul Matthew Comer and Sheila Marie Comer (Courtesy of Paulding County Sheriff)
DALLAS, Ga. -- The parents accused of abusing their teenage son appeared in court Tuesday, fighting to maintain custody of their two other children. Paul and Sheila Comer are charged with child cruelty for allegedly keeping their son Mitch trapped in a dark room for nearly four years.
On Tuesday, a juvenile court judge heard testimony on whether there was probable cause to believe any alleged abuse might have extended to the girls, ages 11 and 13. A caseworker told the judge she didn't even think the girls knew their parents were in jail.
The hearing was closed to the media and public, but 11Alive has learned the judge ruled to keep the girls in state custody, at least until the Comer's bond hearing October 4th, when the parents are expected to enter a not guilty plea and request release from jail. If that happens, the Comer's will ask that the girls be allowed to go home as well.
Paul Comer's attorney, Scott Smith says his office has launched its own investigation into allegations Mitch was kept in a room with little food and forced to kneel in the same position for hours each day.
"I wish I could stand here and tell you everything we know based off our independent investigation but it's not in our best interest to do so at this time," said Smith.
Smith says he has not yet been given access to talk with the two girls, or Mitch. Investigators have also yet to release the search warrant detailing what they found inside the family's home in Dallas on Friday. But 11Alive learned investigators travelled to Ohio to interview Paul Comer's mother about the case.
Family of both Paul and Sheila Comer have said they'd like custody of the children if the parents stay behind bars. A couple, identified to 11Alive as Sheila's parents drove from Iowa and were in court for Tuesday's hearing.
Smith says the hearing was the first time Paul and Shiela Comer had seen each other since their arrest.