Couple accused of starving teen son makes first court appearance

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PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - For the first time since they were arrested for allegedly keeping their teen son locked away in a bedroom with little food for years, a Paulding County couple appeared in court Tuesday morning to find out if and when they'd get to see their two other kids.

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant was outside the second-floor courtroom, where Paul and Sheila Comer appeared for their hour-long hearing.

A Paulding County juvenile court judge found there was probable cause for deprivation, a decision that sided with state child welfare workers, who argued 18-year-old Mitch Comer's two half-sisters were most likely mistreated by their parents, who cannot care for them.

"Probable cause is such a low standard that we assumed that the court would find probable cause today and they did," said Paul Comer's attorney Scott Smith.

Both Paul and Sheila Comer were shackled and wearing jail jumpsuits while facing child cruelty charges, after allegedly locking their starving teen in a bedroom in the family's Dallas home.

Before the hearing, the judge granted a motion filed by the Department of Family and Children Services and Paul Comer's lawyers to close the courtroom to the public. The judge also asked the public and the media to protect the girls' privacy, despite Channel 2's attempts to persuade the judge the hearing was of great public interest.

"We're not in a position to try the case in the media," Smith said.
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A Channel 2 crew also spotted Sheila Comer's parents, but they also declined to address the media.

The Comers' 11-year-old and 13-year-old daughters have been in foster care for nearly two weeks after their parents were arrested.

A follow-up hearing is scheduled after the Comers' bail hearing on the criminal charges next week. Authorities said if the Comers are able to make bail, that hearing would determine what happens to their daughters.