State reviewing Child Protective Services after 12-year-old beaten to death

NOW: State reviewing Child Protective Services after 12-year-old beaten to death

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is investigating after 12-year-old Andre Smith, Jr., who was killed, allegedly by his grandfather.

Andre and his siblings have been in the custody of their grandmother, Illysha McCroy, since 2017. The children's mother, Nakeda Martina, says she has been fighting for custody and voiced concerns about her children's safety.

"I’ve been calling CPS (Child Protective Services) every week," Nakeda said.

Andrez Martina, Andre's grandfather, is charged with brutally beating the 12-year-old to death with a hammer. According to the criminal complaint, McCroy allowed Andre and his 8-year-old brother to spend the night at Andrez Martina's home. Around 3 a.m., Martina woke the boys up, accusing them of stealing money. The complaint state's Andrez Martina beat Andre for hours, killing him.

Now the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is reviewing how the division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services and others involved handled this case.

A review is conducted anytime a child is seriously injured or killed. In Andre's case, the investigation will include what's called a practice view. It's done in cases that "involve significant or current Child Protective Services intervention." It includes reviewing case files and interviewing those who were involved in the case.

"They all are responsible for ignoring me and my child," Nakeda Martina said.

Carmen Pitre, the president and CEO of Sojourner Family Peace Center, calls the case heartbreaking.

"I don't know what happened in this case, but it's horrible. For your child to be moved for safety concerns and be put in danger, is painful," Pitre said.

Pitre says this is a tragic example of why we need to make resources easily accessible to people in need.

"We have to build systems that are trustworthy because if we don't, people will no longer reach out and children will suffer," Pitre said.

Pitre says people can contact Sojourner and other groups like the Parenting Network for help.

"Over the past 20 months we've seen the most domestic violence homicides in the city of Milwaukee ever, so that speaks volumes itself," said Shawn Muhammad, associate director of The Asha Project.

The Asha Project helps African Americans dealing with domestic violence.

"I work with the men as well, who experiencing issues with anger and aggression and things of that nature," Muhammad said.

In a statement to CBS 58, the Department of Children and Families said, "Due to confidentiality requirements defined in Section 48.78 and 48.981(7) of Wisconsin State Statutes, the Department of Children and Families cannot confirm or deny if this family has been involved in any child welfare investigations or provide any information other than what is provided in the public notification for cases that qualify for the exception outlined in Wisconsin Statutes."

When the review is complete, there is a summary that will be made public.

Here are some resources for people struggling with abuse:

The Parenting Network https://www.theparentingnetwork.org/

Sojourner Family Peace Center https://www.familypeacecenter.org/

The Asha Project https://ashafamilyservices.org/

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