WORCESTER, MA (WSFA) - It's a choice no parent should ever have to make, deciding whether or not to take a child off of life-support. However, one Eufaula boy is at the mercy of that decision after police say his father severely beat him just a few days ago, of all days - on Father's Day.
In a Massachusetts courtroom, doctors gave the worst news possible. "He arrived on mechanical ventilation, essentially unresponsive," testified Dr. Scott Bateman of UMass Memorial Hospital. "His pupils were fixed and dilated."
Now, 7-year-old Nathaniel Turner of Eufaula is clinically brain dead. Police say his father, Leslie Schuler, beat him unconscious on Sunday.
"I have no thoughts on it at all. He was a good boy," the boy's step-father Scott Wilson said.
Distraught relatives left the courtroom faced with a difficult decision. Turner's mother, who regained custody in court, must choose when to let her son slip away.
"A child that just loved life and his father took it away...." Wilson said.
Reporter- "What do you have to say about him [Schuler]?
Wilson - "What can I say? God will take care of all that."
Authorities say the assault was the culmination of several week's of abuse at Schuler's Worcester, Mass. home. This after a drawn out custody battle in which the boy's mother petitioned for DNA testing.
In 2004 a judge granted Nathaniel's grandmother custody and the boy moved to Eufaula. "We were heartsick. We felt like we were kicked in the stomach," said the boy's elementary school principal. That principal, Suzanne Tibbs, tells WSFA 12 News she's overcome with grief. "He loved to be at school. Just was really so precious and such a joy to claim as one of our students."
With a terrifying end to this little boy's life the people who knew Nathaniel Turner don't know what to think. "It's hard to imagine a young child so innocent having to deal with something like this.," Tibbs explained. "Really, I am speechless."
The district attorney in Massachusetts has upgraded the charges from assault and battery to homicide. Nathaniel was getting ready to start second grade in Eufaula this fall.
Sadly he's also the second Eufaula Primary School student to die in a week's time.
FAMILY STATMENT 6/25