(Jul. 19) — A father accused of beating his child to death now wants the body cremated, quickly. But his girlfriend, who’s also charged, says he’s just trying to destroy evidence.
Zander Martino died just shy of his third birthday.
This morning, attorneys were in Family Court deciding what to do about the body and Zander’s three siblings.
Channel 8’s Edward Lawrence was the only reporter in court for the case and uncovered exclusive details during that hearing.
(Jul. 18) — The Clark county coroner has ruled the death of a toddler a homicide. Wednesday night, his father and his father’s live-in girlfriend are behind bars accused of his murder.
Metro police had been waiting for the coroner to determine how little Zander Martino died. Though sources tell the I-Team, there was no question during the autopsy he’d been beaten to death. It takes time to review the medical evidence.
Those results were released Wednesday morning as police were arresting Zander’s dad and hunting for his live-in girlfriend. Richard “Todd” Martino and Brandi Reeves now face Murder by Child Abuse charges. Martino had only recently regained custody of Zander and his brother and sister.
The court took the children away from him back in 2004 when a then 4-month-old Zander had multiple broken bones and a fractured skull.
Zander’s natural mother later admitted to the abuse and Martino was given a second chance with his children.
According to this arrest warrant, Martino claims he doesn’t know what could’ve have happened to Zander. Though the time of death determined by the coroner suggests Martino was home when Zander died.
“When you see a child lose their life, it affects everyone. Not only the parents, it affects the community. I would just urge our community to stay diligent, because we are receiving calls, we do have eyes on our children, so stay diligent,” suggested Lisa Teele of Metro Abuse and Neglect.
The most damaging evidence against Martino may ultimately come from his own daughter. His 3-year-old told a Child Protective Services worker, “Daddy hit Zander with a hammer last night.”
Police said they’ve recovered a hammer and are testing it for evidence. She and her siblings are in protective custody.
The family had been investigated in the past by Child Protective Services. The last inspection took place less than a week before Zander was found dead.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is urged to call Abuse and Neglect detail at 828-3364.
This is not the only child death currently under investigation by police. The I-Team has also learned Boulder City Police are investigating what appears to be the beating death of a 6-month-old girl.
That family, too, had previous contact with Clark County’s Child Protective Services system. E-mail your comments to Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty.