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Stockbridge couple charged with child abuse

By Kathy Jefcoats

A Stockbridge mother used heated scissors to cut and burn her son's tongue and neck, forced him to stick his fingers on a hot stove and then sat on him while she beat him with a belt, a Henry County police detective told a magistrate Friday morning.

The 6-year-old boy got in trouble two days in a row for talking in class, said Detective Wayne Bender. He is now in the custody of his biological father.

Samantha Davis, 32, of 121 Turning Point Road was arrested Thursday at her job at Flipper Temple Associates in Atlanta. She is charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to children in the first degree and is being held in the Henry County Jail on $100,000 cash or property bond.

Henry Magistrate Robert Godwin reset her probable cause hearing for Sept. 3 and said he would reconsider her bond at that time if she is still locked up. Davis is being represented by David Studdard, her divorce attorney. Studdard told Godwin his client is innocent.

"I think there is a plausible inference that someone else did it," said Studdard.

But Bender said he interviewed the boy four times and he never wavered from his story that his mother inflicted his injuries.

Bender's graphic description of what allegedly happened bothered Godwin, who told Studdard he had "not one whit of sympathy" for Davis.

Bender said when the child came home from school Friday, his mother was waiting for him with a pair of scissors she'd heated on a gas stove.

"She made him open his mouth and stuck the scissors to his tongue," said Bender. "She stuck them in again and snips off part of his tongue."

Bender said the boy went to the bathroom where he spit out blood into the sink.

"She then took the scissors and stuck them to his neck and burned it," he said. "Then she called him to the stove and told him to put his fingers on the burner. He held out two fingers for about two seconds and pulled them back."

Bender said Davis told the child that wasn't long enough and forced him to put the fingers back.

"I asked him why he did that and he said he was afraid of her," said Bender.

Davis then reportedly told the child to lay on a leather couch.

"She weighs 260 pounds," Bender told Godwin. "She laid on top of him and beat his behind with a leather belt."

The child was examined by doctors at Egleston Hospital at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, said Bender. The scissors, covered in blood, were turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for DNA analysis.

"She told the boy if he got into trouble at school again for talking, she was going to cut out his tongue," Bender said.

During the investigation, Bender questioned the 7-year-old son of Davis' live-in boyfriend of more than a year, Traci Leshaun Hale, 28. Bender said he found scarring on the boy's buttocks that a doctor who examined him said is dead skin that will never grow back.

"This is the result of multiple beatings on top of multiple beatings," said Bender.

Bender further characterized the injury as something with the potential to be more serious.

"These are consistent with the injuries that Joella Reaves had when she died," he said. "We feel like we saved this child's life."

Joella, 11, was found beaten to death in her Stockbridge home Dec. 1. Her father, Rodney, and stepmother, Charlott, are charged with murder in the case and face the death penalty if convicted.

Hale is charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children. He is being held in the Henry County Jail on $25,000 bond. Court-appointed attorney Atha Pryor represents Hale, who waived his probable cause hearing. Pryor said three experts at Egleston disagree with the first doctor's findings, describing the child's buttocks as being just dry skin.

Pryor said her client admits spanking his son on the buttocks.

Hale, a sheetrock hanger, attended a Juvenile Court hearing Thursday morning to determine where his son would live. As custody was granted to the boy's mother, Hale was arrested by a Henry sheriff's deputy.