Custody Hearing Held in Effingham County for Baby Aiden - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Custody Hearing Held in Effingham County for Baby Aiden

Custody hearing for Baby Aiden was held today in Effingham County. Custody hearing for Baby Aiden was held today in Effingham County.

SPRINGFIELD, GA (WTOC) - The custody proceedings for baby Aiden Waller got underway today in an Effingham County court. Aiden has been in the hospital with severe head injuries for the past two months. His mother is charged with abusing him in January and six months earlier in July. 

Today's hearing was to assign temporary custody. Aiden should be released soon from Memorial University Medical Center. He could go into foster care or go home with a grandparent. That information is not being released and the public may never know what will happen to him.

Juvenile custody hearings are closed to the public unless the judge rules otherwise. In this case, Judge Gates Peed said Aiden's right to privacy outweighs the public's right to know.

Grandparents from both sides of baby Aiden's family left the courthouse around noon. Each had a few minutes to tell the judge what they think should happen to the 11-month-old boy. Joyce Schotter came down from Tennessee so she could have her say. "I don't think anybody doesn't want Aiden's best interest. I think everyone is there fighting for Aiden."

She said she is glad she had a chance to speak out. "I feel like a weight has been lifted off me because being so far away nobody wants to talk to you. They heard me today. I am going to be Aiden's voice, whether people want me to say that or not."

Schotter is the mother of Aiden's father. She is not seeking custody. She just wants what is best for Aiden. "I want my grandson to be protected and be in a safe environment where this can never happen to him again."

She has never met her grandson, she hopes to today. "I want to hug and kiss him, rock him. I want to do everything," she said.

Schotter brought him many gifts including books and stuffed animals. Aiden will turn 1-year-old March 26. For the past two months, he's been at Memorial. Sheriff's deputies have said Aiden's parents beat and bit him and even sewed his clothing to a bed sheet to restrain him.

Judge Peed has presided over all the hearings. Less than two weeks ago, he came down hard on Aiden's mother, Tina Richards. He sentenced her to 21 years in prison just for abusing Aiden in July. She is facing more charges for abusing him again in January. The judge is keeping Aiden's father Phillip Waller in jail with no bond.

Today Judge Peed said his priority now is protecting baby Aiden and giving him privacy. The judge doesn't want anyone to release any more information about the infant's medical condition and for now, all custody hearings are closed. His hope is one day Aiden can live a normal life.

Schotter, said she wants that more than anything. "Just keep praying," is her message. "All we want is a full miracle. That's what we started out for was a miracle for Aiden. He's come a long way in a short amount of time, he's a fighter."

For now, the only family member with an attorney and seeking custody is Aiden's grandfather, Steven Richards. Others could decide to fight for custody as this case continues. This was the first of a series of custody hearings for Aiden.

There was no mention today about Aiden's new baby brother. He was born a week ago in Atlanta where Tina Richards is incarcerated.

Click here for our full coverage of this story.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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