The Supreme Court of Georgia has affirmed the murder convictions and life sentence for David Joe Mann Jr. in the 2012 death of 7-year-old Ethan Martinez.
The court’s opinion was released on Jan. 27 and affirmed Mann’s convictions for malice murder and two counts of first degree cruelty to children for throwing Martinez, his fiancée’s son, to the ground and killing him.
In September 2012, Mann lived in Newton County with his fiancée, Dora Martinez, and her son, Ethan. On the morning of Sept. 18, Mann called 911 and said that Ethan was unresponsive and vomiting. When first responders arrived, they found the boy unconscious but breathing with signs of a head injury.
Ethan was transported to Newton County Medical Center, where a nurse observed a large hematoma on the back of his head, and other injuries to his buttocks and arm. A CT scan showed bleeding along the side of his brain, as well as brain swelling.
Ethan was transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where he was admitted with a traumatic brain injury. Doctors eventually confirmed brain death, and Ethan was taken off life support on Sept. 21.
During interviews with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Mann admitted to having “whooped” Ethan after learning that Ethan had not completed his homework. Mann said that he then picked Ethan up in the air and tried to throw him on the bed, but missed the bed and Ethan hit the ground.
Mann was initially charged with cruelty to children and aggravated battery. Charges against Mann were upgraded to felony murder following the child’s death.
Mann’s trial was held Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2014. The jury found Mann guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to life in prison. Mann filed a motion for a new trial on March 28, 2018. The court denied the motion on Feb. 19, 2019. Mann appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court in August.
In his motion for a new trial, Mann claimed the evidence presented against him at trial was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court committed reversible error in five respects, and that his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance.
The Supreme Court ruled that “there is no reasonable probability that the outcome at trial would have been different,” and Mann’s appeal was denied and his convictions and sentence upheld.