Livingston Elementary School second-grader Ethan Israel Martinez died from blunt force trauma Sunday, and the father to his baby sister, and mother's live-in boyfriend David Mann Jr., is in the Newton County Jail, facing charges in the murder of the 7 year old.
Newton County Sheriff's Lt. Tyrone Oliver said that EMS was first called to the home the couple shared on Paden Street around 7:30 a.m. Sept. 18. When they arrived, they found the little boy unresponsive with minimal visible injuries. After speaking with Mann, the only one in the home at the time, save Martinez and his younger sister, investigators were called to the scene.
Oliver said Mann had been at the home with both Martinez, who is not his biological child, and the 6-month-old girl he fathered with Martinez's mother. He said it was typical for Mann to get Martinez ready for school while his mother went to work. The couple had been together for roughly 18-24 months, Oliver said.
Martinez was taken to the hospital, alive but unresponsive. He was placed on life support but succumbed to his injuries Sunday. That's when charges against Mann went from aggravated battery and cruelty to children to felony murder.
Mann has no criminal history that Oliver was aware of. Oliver said he did give investigators a statement but would not elaborate on what was discussed.
Students are on fall break this week, but Livingston's Principal Shari Thomas spoke fondly of Martinez.
"Ethan was a funny little boy who loved to make others laugh. He only attended Livingston for a short time, but he had made lots of friends and became part of our Livingston family immediately."
Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for the Newton County School System, said there will be counselors for students and teachers available at the school beginning Monday.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ethan's family. This is such a tragic loss. We will have counselors on hand at the school first thing Monday morning for any students or teachers who need help."
Calls to Martinez's mother were not returned as of press time.
The family did not have burial insurance so a fund has been set up for monetary assistance, said school spokeswoman Sherri Davis-Viniard. Donations may be made to Jesus E. Martinez, Chase Bank, Account #108995890.
Mann is being held without bond at the Newton County Jail.