COVINGTON -- The 7-year-old Newton County boy who died last month had been the subject of an investigation by the Department of Family and Children Services prior to his death.
DFACS recently provided a case file of Ethan Israel Martinez after an Open Records request by the Citizen. Suspected of his murder is his mother's boyfriend, 25-year-old David Joe Mann Jr., of 20 Paden St.
Martinez, a student at Livingston Elementary School, was found unresponsive Sept. 18, and died five days later at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. After his death, Mann was charged with felony murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children; he remains in the Newton County Detention Center.
Mann was the only adult in the home when he called EMS to the scene, where he and the victim's mother live in a subdivision off Ga. Highway 81 South. They have lived together for about two years and also have a 6-month-old child together.
Much of the information in the nearly 200 pages provided to the Citizen was redacted, but it shows that the boy was observed by DFACS in June 2008 in DeKalb County and September 2010 in Newton County after allegations of physical abuse, but the cases were closed after no abuse or neglect was found. It was not clear from the records provided who the child lived with at those times.
DFACS was contacted again in September, after the incident that resulted in his death, according to records.
After Martinez's mother left for work on the morning of Sept. 18, Mann apparently told the 911 operator that he went to get the boy on the bus for school and reportedly found him lying on his bedroom floor with his eyes open and breathing hard, but he wasn't moving and had a red mark on the back of his head. After putting him in a cold shower and trying to dress him, the child began to gag, and Mann called 911, according to the reports.
Records show domestic violence was denied to be in the home, although the mother reportedly wanted out of the relationship. It appears that someone reported that Martinez had fallen on the playground at school and off the bed several times in recent months, although the school was unaware of those issues. The school reported that Martinez appeared to never be happy and never smiled.
The boy also supposedly complained of headaches, but his doctor had no reports of the complaints, reports show.
Mann also admitted to having physically disciplined Martinez in December when he accidentally hit him on the side of the face instead of in the back of the head, where he meant to hit him, and then earlier in the month, he spanked him several times after he failed to do his homework. Martinez had an individualized education plan at school with help in several subjects, records show.
A doctor reported that the boy's injuries were "definitely a result of abuse," not from a fall, records show. When confronted with the information, Mann requested an attorney. Afterward, he admitted to accidentally hurting "that kid," spanking, squeezing, shaking and throwing him, which caused him to have seizure-like tendencies. An autopsy ruled that Martinez died from blunt force trauma to the head -- he had several bruises and a contusion on the right lung.