Neighbors React to Gruesome Abuse Death of 7-Year-Old
Mary Martinez and Etter Hughes have been charged for killing a 7-year-old after prolonged abuse and abusing his 9-year-old brother. The 9-year-old is still in the hospital for abuse and severe malnutrition.
Neighbors near South 19th Street in Milwaukee now know what happened behind closed doors.
"To hear about a child going like that, it's heartbreaking," said Demetrius Jones.
Jones places a candle at a growing memorial for 7-year-old Trevion Winningham.
"I didn't know him, but no child should have to suffer through this," said Jones.
He is a father of 3, and wants to pay his respects. Jones says he wish he could have done something.
"We're having Thanksgiving dinner, and there's a child over here dying," said Jones.
Demetrius's sister, Latoya encourages children to speak up, and says the neighborhood would have helped.
"If the little boy was in trouble he should have told another child, and another child should have told their parents, and something could have been done," said Latoya Jones.
Trevion and his brother would play with Latoya's 11-year-old son. Who couldn't handle the news.
"He cried. My son is very sensitive so he's like, 'Mommy I like the little boy. I don't know why they did him like this,'" said Latoya Jones.
Latoya Jones says the boys were happy, but she barely saw Etter Hughes or Mary Martinez,
More details emerged after the two women appeared in court Saturday.
Etter Hughes entered the courtroom in handcuffs, an anti-suicide smock, and tears down her face.
A criminal complaint details the treatment Trevion received was consistent with cruelty and torture.
Trevion and his brother were living with 2nd cousin Etter Hughes and her son. They had recently come from Arkansas to Milwaukee so Etter Hughes could get a better job. The boys' mother, Candice, asked Hughes to take her sons and she would come to Milwaukee soon after. Hughes says Candice never came to Milwaukee. Hughes moved in with Mary Martinez, a women Hughes met in prison when she was serving a sentence for "child neglect causing death" in 2003.
Trevion's brother and Etter Hughes' 13-year-old son told police Martinez would strike the brothers with extension cords, belts, a blue stick, shoes and her fist. They said Martinez would punch the boys with a closed fist, and had kicked Trevion so hard in the back he fell over. On one occasion she beat Trevion until he was crying and "losing his breath."
They also told police the brothers were not allowed to eat any of the food inside of Defendant Martinez’s refrigerator. When Martinez would let other children eat, she told the brothers, “you can’t have crap.” Etter Hughes' 13-year-old son would make food for the brothers when others were done eating.
Mary Martinez's son Carlos Gonzalez told police Etter Hughes tied up the two brothers in the living room, and Hughes gave Martinez permission to "physically discipline" the boys. Gonzalez also said he could hear his mother abusing the brothers while he was in his bedroom.
The complaint detailed Etter Hughes dropped Trevion off at the hospital around 11:20 a.m. He had been unresponsive since Hughes woke up at 9:30 a.m. Hughes wanted to call 911, and told police Martinez didn't want the police at her house. She says Martinez told her to "take [Trevion] to the woods and drop him off."
When Trevion was brought to the hospital doctors worked on him for hours. He would often lose and then regain a heartbeat. They also admitted his brother for abuse and severe malnutrition. The criminal complaint details he "had loose fitting clothing, no underwear, and stool in his pants. [He] had no subcutaneous fat with wasting and prominence of the cheek bones, facial bones, ribs, hip bones, elbows, and scapulae."
Hughes says she never abused the children, but believed Martinez was abusing them. She also noticed they were losing weight and knew it could lead to their death due to her history of a 1-year-old child died in Hughes care in 2003.
Etter Hughes and Mary Martinez were given $150,000 cash bail. They will both be back in court on December 12th.