The man accused of inflicting years of torture before killing his 12-year-old son was indicted today on eight felony charges, including three for felony murder, according to the Paulding County District Attorney’s Office.
But that man, Shayaa Yusef Forbes, has been a free man since April 17, when he was released from custody after posting $25,000 bond, jail records show.
“I’m not happy about it, but that’s not my call,” Dick Donovan, Paulding’s DA, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. “That’s the court’s call. The judge makes that call.”
Forbes, 32, was arrested in October after calling 911 to report that his son, Eric, had drowned in the family’s rental home, off Cedarcrest Road.
When emergency responders arrived at the home, they found Eric unconscious, Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, previously said. The sixth grader at McClure Middle School also had physical signs of severe child abuse, Henson said. Eric died after being transported to the hospital and his father was arrested.
A preliminary autopsy, conducted by the GBI, ruled Eric’s death a homicide. Due to the extent and number of Eric’s injuries, GBI medical examiners were required to document all of the evidence of abuse, Donovan said. It was a lengthy process, but necessary due to the extensive injuries investigators believe Eric endured, David Lyles, a senior assistant district attorney said.
“The violence inflicted on this child happened over a period of time,” Lyles said. “Some of the wounds were more fresh than others.”
Eric had been beaten, likely with a belt and wooden paddle, and had been bitten, Lyles said. At the time of his death, Eric had injuries from head to toe, he said.
Eric’s death came about three weeks before 10-year-old Emani Moss was found dead in Gwinnett County, where investigators believe she had been starved, burned and put in a trash can. Both of the children’s deaths allegedly occurred at the hands of their parents, and both families had previously been investigated by the Division of Family and Children’s Services. Two state welfare workers were later fired following the deaths of the two children.
Investigators believe Forbes had moved his two children from Cobb County to Paulding in an effort to divert the DFCS investigation into alleged abuse, Lyles said. At the time of Eric’s death, Forbes may have been attempting to withdraw the boy from public school in order to home-school him, Lyles said.
“I think most troubling to me is that this child had to suffer the length of time that he apparently had to suffer,” Donovan said.
After Eric’s death, his younger sister was placed in protective custody, according to police. The DA’s office declined to comment today on the girl’s whereabouts.
Forbes was being held at the Paulding jail on $30,000 bond until earlier this month, when Forbes’ attorney asked a judge to reconsider the bond amount. Judge Tommy Beavers lowered the bond amount by $5,000, and nine days later, Forbes posted bond and was released, according the jail records.
“I would prefer that someone whom we believe to have murdered somebody the way Mr. Forbes killed his child, or is alleged to have killed his child, we would want a higher bond,” Donovan said. “We would want that person to remain in jail.”
Forbes is allowed to live with his girlfriend in Kennesaw while he is out on bond, prosecutors said. His arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
If convicted, Forbes could face life in prison without the possibility of parole, Lyles said.
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