by: Richard Elliot Updated:
PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - The biological mother of a 12-year-old boy, who investigators said died from severe abuse, claims to have suffered abuse at the hands of his father, too.
Ashlei Majors was in a Paulding County courtroom Tuesday afternoon trying to get custody of her daughter, Erica Forbes. The state took custody of the girl as deputies investigate the death of her brother, Eric.
Deputies arrested 32-year-old Shayaa Forbes Friday night after they said they found signs on severe abuse on Eric's body. Emergency crews responded to Forbes' Acworth home after they received a 911 call.
Neighbor Ashlee Smith said the family called her around 11 p.m. Friday and asked her to take Erica while they were trying to handle Eric's severe asthma attack. When she arrived to take the girl to her house, she said she witnessed EMTs working to save Eric's life.
"They just couldn't get him to breathe," said Smith. The 12-year old died later at the hospital.
Deputies said they discovered multiple bruises, bite marks and lacerations on Eric's body, marks consistent with signs of abuse. They arrested Forbes and charged him with child cruelty.
Smith said she never saw any signs of abuse and always thought Forbes was a loving father.
"They were always out playing football," said Smith. "I'm just completely dumbfounded. I just can't imagine him doing anything to them kids like that. But I guess everybody has their in-home secrets."
Majors said she left the relationship years ago because she suffered abuse, too.
"I really don't want to talk about it," said Majors as she walked out of the courtroom. "But it wasn't a good history."
A judge delayed the custody hearing because neither side brought attorneys.
Paulding County deputies said they could file additional charges once they receive the results of an autopsy.