MILWAUKEE, Wis. — The grandfather of a 12-year-old boy was criminally charged for allegedly beating the child to death last weekend in Wisconsin. The man accused the boy of stealing money from his wallet and "lost control," authorities say.
Andrez Martina, 53, faces five charges, according to a criminal complaint: First-degree intentional homicide, two counts of physical abuse of a child, neglecting a child, and possession of a firearm by a felon. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
The defendant asked the boy, Andre Smith II, and his 8-year-old brother to sleep over at his house Saturday evening, the children's legal guardian and grandmother told police. Martina planned to take to the boys shopping for school supplies the next day, according to a criminal complaint.
On Sunday morning, the grandmother says the defendant sent her a text accusing Andre of stealing his money. The grandmother asked where Andre was and the defendant replied, "he's bleeding."
That's when the grandmother woke her daughter and her boyfriend and told them to go to the defendant's house near 46th and Glendale and find out what was happening.
There they found the boys and the defendant. The boyfriend immediately drove the boys to the hospital. Andre was unconscious with a severe head wound.
Andre and his brother's disabled great-grandmother, who lives with Martina, told police she was awakened by the defendant yelling at Andre. She looked up and saw the defendant hitting Andre with a hammer, according to the complaint.
Police say they found methamphetamine pills, marijuana, and a firearm in the defendant's home.
At the hospital, police learned the 8-year-old brother suffered a head laceration, fractured finger, and bruising consistent with child physical abuse. The brother told investigators that Martina was angry about missing money and beat the brothers with a mallet, a sledgehammer, and a coat rack.
In an interview with police, Martina said he returned to Milwaukee from Indiana in May. "Upon returning to Milwaukee, the defendant wanted to reconnect with his grandchildren. The defendant learned [Andre] had a problem stealing," according to the complaint.
The defendant recalled telling his grandchildren in the past, “If you lie, if you mess up in school, if you steal, I’m going to kill you."
During the interview, the defendant also admitted to killing another boy in 1989 and "said he wanted to talk with police as the defendant has nothing to hide," the complaint states.
Vigils for Andre
Dozens gathered to mourn Andre in two vigils held in Milwaukee on Monday night.
Andre's sister and grandmother described him as a bright, young boy. His grandmother held a vigil and balloon release near her home at 71st and Hope Monday night.
"He made me a big sister, I mean, I love him with all my heart," said Andre's sister, Shatya Martina. "And he’s the first little brother I actually called mine, and I took care of and watched him grow up."
"He was a happy kid," said Andre's grandmother, Illysha McCroy. "He loved Minecraft, Roblox, Legos, he watched the championship game with me. It’s just so hard to fathom."
Over at Lincoln Park, Andre's mother, Nakeda Martina, also held a vigil for her son.
"He called me Friday night at 12 o'clock on the dot to wish me a happy birthday," Martina said. "And then he was beaten to death on my actual birthday."
Martina says she does not have custody of Andre, and she lives in Georgia. She said she had feared something like this might happen.
"I have been calling CPS every week since the Fourth of July when I picked Andre out of the street," Martina said.
"Nobody listens to my kids, nobody listens to me, and now my baby is gone," Martina added.
This story was originally published by Mary Jo Ola, Stephanie Haines, and other staff at WTMJ.