COVINGTON, Ga. -- It's been a tough day for students at Livingston Elementary School in Covington. They're just back from fall break and are now trying to understand how one of their classmates is not with them.
7-year-old Ethan Israel Martinez died on September 23rd and the boy's mother's live-in boyfriend is charged with his death.
This afternoon students gathered in the gym for a memorial for their classmate. Afterwards, they planted daffodil bulbs in the school garden.
Principal Shari Thomas told 11Alive News, that it's difficult for young children to understand death and some are now hearing about the horrible circumstances surrounding Ethan's death.
On Tuesday September 18th, around 7:30 am, emergency crews were called to the boy's Covington home. Shortly afterwards, Newton County Sheriff Deputies were called to talk to the only adult in the house, David Joe Mann, Jr. Two days later, police charged Mann with Cruelty to Children first degree and Aggravated Battery. However, after five days on life support, Ethan died and David Mann is now charged with Felony Murder and is being held without bond.
Ethan's father, Jesus Martinez, was at Thursday's memorial for his son. He is estranged from Ethan's Mom and hadn't seen his child in more than a year. However, he was worried about him.
"One time he called me and said, 'Pappi, I want to come home. I want to come home'," Jesus said, while standing in the garden where the flowers had been planted.
Ethan had just transferred to Livingston Elementary and had only been in the school for one month. Prior to that he had attended Oak Hill Elementary.
Jesus Martinez says Department of Family and Children Services had called him after the boy was admitted to the hospital. However, Newton County Sheriff's spokesman Tyrone Oliver told 11Alive News that he was not aware of any DFCS investigations involving the child. All were are being told is that Ethan died as a result of "blunt force trauma".
Principal Thomas, who says she was a victim of child abuse, wants something positive to come from Ethan's death.
"Laws change all the time when things happen and maybe it's a chance to just say, we really need to have a partnership between the school system and DFCS; to know when children may be in situations that are harmful."