Family, friends say goodbye to 12-year-old tragically beaten to death in Milwaukee
When he was killed, Andre's grandmother had custody, his mom, Nakeda Martina, was fighting to get him back and voiced concerns about his safety.
At Friday's funeral, Andre's parents remembered the kid who loved Minecraft and Fortnite, but also vowed to make sure this doesn't happen to other kids.
Andre Smith II casket, covered in flowers as bright and vibrant as he was.
12 year old Andre Smith will be laid to rest today. He was beaten to death with a hammer, grandfather has been charged with the crime. Funeral starts at 11:30. pic.twitter.com/dTb7OyvS3k— Kristen Barbaresi (@KristenBarbar) September 10, 2021
Andre loved fortnite & Minecraft. He is survived by 4 brothers & 5 sisters. pic.twitter.com/MhCrBvcvQD— Kristen Barbaresi (@KristenBarbar) September 10, 2021
"I just want y’all to remember my brother as the happiest, goofiest child ever," said Shatya Martina, Andre’s sister.
Andre's family and teachers say he was the one who always kept them laughing.
"Dre Dre wanted to be a comedian," said Andre Smith Sr., Andre's dad.
Even as they grieve, it's videos of Andre that give them a reason to smile. During the funeral, Andre's mom, Nakeda Martina, played a video of her son singing and dancing.
"He could entertain when anyone was around,” Nakeda said.
Nakeda Martina, Andre’s mom speaking now. “This pain is unimaginable. Andre was my heart.” pic.twitter.com/kaDk89BzVf— Kristen Barbaresi (@KristenBarbar) September 10, 2021
But those memories don't replace the future stolen the day Andre was killed. Police say Andre's guardian, his grandmother, let Andre spend the night at his grandfather, Andrez Martina, home. Martina allegedly beat Andre for hours on August 29, killing him.
"Andre was my heart," Nakeda said during an emotional eulogy.
Andre dreamed of being a businessman or even president one day.
"I was supposed to see him gradate, and be an inventor or something," Shatya said. "He wasn’t supposed o go out like that."
Though his life was cut far too short, Andre's family will make sure his death is not in vain.
"He came up to me, he said daddy I want to get a million, million, million followers so I could change the world," Andre Smith Sr. said. "And I looked up on the screen and his story went viral."
Andre's story, his parents hope, will strengthen systems meant to protect children from abuse.
"I just hope that this happening to my baby, it will save some other kids," Nakeda said.
During the funeral, a proclamation from Mayor Tom Barrett was read, declaring September 10, 2021 Wisconsin Ending Crimes Against Children Day.
After the service, in a statement, Nakeda said:
"I would like to thank all those who have been a support to me and my children throughout this ordeal. The pain we are experiencing right now is indescribable. The abuse and neglect my son went through he did not deserve, no kid deserves. My prayer is that Child Protective Services and the courts will take child safety and well-being more serious in order to prevent more tragedies. This murder should have never happened."
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is conducting a review of Andre's death and any reports of suspected abuse involving the child.
Andrez Martina Sr. remains in custody and will be back in court for a preliminary hearing on September 13. He faces two life sentences plus 35 years if convicted.