Paulding Co. couple sentenced to 15 years in abuse case - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Paulding Co. couple sentenced to 15 years in abuse case

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DALLAS, Ga. -

The Paulding County couple accused of locking their son away in his room for years pled guilty in front of a superior court judge on Thursday.

Paul and Sheila Comer pled guilty to charges they confined their son, Mitch, to his room for two years with little to no food or water. The judge sentenced them to 15 years in prison.

The sentence was part of a plea deal that cut the time they would spend in prison to a tenth of the time the couple could have faced had they gone to trial. If they were convicted on all counts during a trial they would have each faced 150 years in prison.

Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan said the deal was made to help spare their children from ordeal of testifying in open court, but it also leaves a lot of questions particularly why the couple choose to commit that kind of abuse.

It was less than six months since Paulding County deputies arrested the couple following an investigation that started in California. A retired police officer working security at a bus station spotted the emaciated teen and started talking to him. Mitch eventually told police that on his 18th birthday, he was put on a cross-country bus by his father. He was $200 and a list of homeless shelters.

Mitch weighed 87 pounds when he returned to Paulding County who took over the investigation. Investigators said that Mitch still had baby teeth in his mouth. He said he had not been allowed out of his house even for school since he was in 8th grade.

Officials say their lack of contact with family members was just one way the Comers isolated them from the outside world. The family did not attend a church and have no family friends that they could find.

Investigators said they never determined a reason behind Mitch Comer's treatment.

"The Comers love their children, and this is personal, I think that they just did not know how to deal with their oldest child," said Renee Rockwell, Sheila Comer's attorney.

Mitch had the opportunity to be in the courtroom on Thursday morning, but he said that he would rather go to school than to be in the courtroom. He is currently living with a foster family and attending classes in the area.

Paulding County resident Karen Pace said that she was so disturbed by what happened that she began raising money for Mitch, shortly after authorities arrested his parents last September. Since then, she's gotten to know Mitch and the foster family he's living with.

"He is with a family that is very capable of managing his needs, and I think that between that and therapy and time, and the fact that he is now in a ‘normal setting,' then he has the opportunity to heal and restore and move forward," Pace said.

Pace says a trial may have hindered that progress.

"He's in school, he's happy. He has friends, activities -- I believe a new bike for Christmas. He is living a reasonably normal life and is content and happy with it," Pace said.

Donovan says, from the very beginning, Mitch has just wanted the case against his parents to go away.

Now that it's over, he has some peace.

"What we did, is we avoided the necessity of putting either Mitch or his two sisters through a two-week long trial, which would have been incredibly emotionally draining for them and probably more detrimental than it would've been worth," Donovan said.

The deal also stipulated that the couple turn all of their property over to their children. Those assets, totaling around $100,000 before the couple's lawyer fees, will be handed over.

The Paulding County couple accused of locking their son away in his room for years appeared before a superior court judge to enter a plea on Thursday.

 

Paul and Sheila Comer plead

 

to charges they confined their son, Mitch, to his room for years with little to no food or water.

 

Paulding County deputies arrested the couple following an investigation that started in California. A retired police officer working security at a bus station spotted the emaciated teen and started talking to him. Mitch eventually told police that on his 18th birthday, he was put on a cross-country bus by his father. He was $200 and a list of homeless shelters.

 

Mitch weighed 87 pounds when he returned to Paulding County who took over the investigation. Investigators said that Mitch still had baby teeth in his mouth. He said he had not been allowed out of his house even for school since he was in 8th grade.

 

Officials say their lack of contact with family members was just one way the Comers isolated them from the outside world. The family did not attend a church and have no family friends that they could find.

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