Two Milwaukee women charged in torture, brutal death of 7-year-old boy

Etter Hughes (left) and Mary Martinez. (Photos: Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

Etter Hughes (left) and Mary Martinez. (Photos: Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

Forty-four-year-old Etter Hughes and 47-year-old Mary Martinez have been charged in connection with the death of 7-year-old, Trevion Winningham.

According to officials, Winningham was brought from a residence near 19th and National Avenue to a hospital on Tuesday, November 29th. The child was suffering from numerous injuries. The child died a few hours later.

Hughes and Martinez face the following charges:

– Child neglect (resulting in death) – Max. penalty 25 years in prison, $100,00 in fines

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– Child neglect (great bodily harm) – Max. penalty 12.5 years in prison, $25,000 in fines

– 2 counts of physical abuse of a child, repeated acts causing bodily harm (Mary Martinez) – Max. penalty 15 years in prison, $50,000 in fines

– 2 counts of failure to act to prevent bodily harm to a child (Etter Hughes) – Max. penalty 6 years in prison, $10,000 in fines

According to the criminal complaint, Etter Hughes brought Winningham and a 9-year-old boy to St. Luke's Medical Center on Tuesday. She "yelled out that she had an unresponsive baby." Medical personnel helped carry the boy into the emergency room.

The complaint indicates Hughes "claimed to have discovered Trevion W. unresponsive" when she woke up. Hughes also "handed a handwritten note" to a security official at St. Luke's. It blamed the 9-year-old boy "for inflicting the injuries on Trevion’s body."

Medical officials noted that Winningham’s "body was marked with significant signs of trauma." Police were immediately notified due to the concern for severe child physical abuse. After a pulse was regained, the boy was taken to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Doctors at Children's Hospital attempted more life-saving measures – but Winningham later died.

The complaint indicates that doctors noted "Trevion was suffering severe child physical abuse. The multiple, too numerous to count, patterned injuries throughout Trevion’s body were inflicted with sufficient force to break the skin." They also noted the boy was "also the victim of severe malnutrition." They said, "The severe abuse and neglect resulted in Trevion‘s death."

According to the complaint, Hughes also had with her a 9-year-old boy at the time she stopped at St. Luke's Medical Center. That child was also "diagnosed as the victim of severe, life-threatening malnutrition and severe child physical abuse," the complaint read.

In response to the call from St. Luke's Medical Center, Milwaukee police responded to the hospital and interviewed Hughes. The complaint says, "During the initial interview, Defendant Hughes denied physically abusing (the 9-year-old boy) or Trevion W. Defendant Hughes had no explanation for (the 9-year-old boy's) and Trevion W.’s malnourished state."

As one detective interviewed Hughes, another talked with Hughes' son. He "disclosed seeing Defendant Mary Martinez abuse both Trevion W. and (the 9-year-old boy) on multiple instances using her hands and a shoe." The son also "disclosed that Trevion W. and (the 9-year-old boy) began losing weight over the past three weeks."

Based on the initial investigation, Etter Hughes and Mary Martinez were arrested.

Later on November 29th, Milwaukee police conducted an in-custody interview with Hughes. She said Trevion and the 9-year-old boy "began to lose weight shortly after moving in with Defendant Martinez." She said Martinez's home 'was infested with rats and mice. The rats and mice were brazen enough to crawl into bed with people in order to find food crumbs."

Hughes told investigators she noticed Winningham and the 9-year old boy had thin faces in the beginning of November. She "noticed many wounds on each victim" and believed it was from the two boys hurting each other.

On the morning of November 29th, the complaint indicates Martinez "came into the living room and was yelling for everyone to get up." She attempted to wake Winningham, but he was unresponsive. Hughes told police she wanted to call 911, but Martinez did not want her to do that or take the boy to the hospital. "Defendant Martinez told Defendant Hughes, 'take (Trevion) to the woods and drop him off'."

Hughes admitted to investigators that each victim's weight loss was very concerning to her and "she knew it could lead to the death of the children."

Police also interviewed the adult son of Mary Martinez. He "recalled a time approximately two weeks ago where he returned home to (the 9-year-old boy) and Trevion each being tied up and seated on the floor behind a couch. Defendant Martinez, who was home, said the Defendant Hughes tied the children up."

Investigators also questioned the 9-year-old victim in this case. He indicated "Martinez would strike (the 9-year-old boy) and Trevion with extension cords, belts and shoes." He also indicated he and "Trevion were not allowed to eat any of the food inside Defendant Martinez's refrigerator. When Defendant Martinez would allow the other children to have something to eat, she would tell (the 9-year-old boy) and Trevion, 'you can't have crap.'"

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