Texas City Boy Death

Carolyn Stewart holds a portrait of her grandson Mar’Nijah Brown in her Houston apartment on Jan. 27.

Stuart Villanueva/The Daily News

Police Friday morning arrested the father of a 6-year-old Texas City boy who died in December.

David Jerome Brown, 29, of Texas City, was charged with injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury, a third-degree felony, at the conclusion of an investigation into the death of Mar’Nijah Brown, officials said.

Texas City police responded to a call of an unresponsive child and found Mar’Nijah at his father’s home Dec. 5, police said.

Paramedics attempted to perform CPR on the boy before taking him to Mainland Medical Center, where he was declared dead, police said.

David Brown was at the scene when police arrived and told officers Mar’Nijah had been in a fight at school and that he had counseled the child when he got home, but had not disciplined him, according to an affidavit released Friday.

Brown said that he had fed the boy before sending him to his room as part of a “grounding,” according to the affidavit.

Brown said he told a relative to go get Mar’Nijah so he could do chores and that he was found unresponsive with blood on his face, according to the affidavit.

During a follow-up interview, Brown said he found Mar’Nijah upstairs with blood and fluid coming from his mouth and nose and that he attempted live-saving techniques, but was unsuccessful, according to the affidavit.

Following Mar’Nijah’s death, authorities launched an investigation into the circumstances.

Officers who went to Mainland Medical Center said that they saw bruising on Mar’Nijah’s chest and under his eyes and blood was on his face, according to the affidavit.

A family member in the home told investigators that she had learned that the boy had gotten in trouble at school and that later, while upstairs, she heard spanking and screaming coming from David Brown’s bedroom, according to the affidavit. She said there were about 10 strikes, according to the affidavit.

Police also received permission to search the house during the investigation and found blood on the carpet, wall and doors in Brown’s bedroom, according to the affidavit.

Officers also found blood on a wall and a washcloth in the master bathroom in the bedroom, according to the affidavit.

Officers took blood samples from the people living in the home and compared it to samples of the blood found in the house and a Department of Public Safety Crime Lab found that the blood could be from Mar’Nijah, according to the affidavit.

At the time of his death, Mar’Nijah was a first-grader at Lobit Elementary School in Dickinson Independent School District.

R.A. Apffel, an attorney representing Brown, said in an earlier interview with The Daily News that Mar’Nijah had gotten into a fight with another boy at school and was disciplined when he got home for fighting.

Later that night, after dinner, family members went upstairs to check on Mar’Nijah and found him unresponsive. Apffel said Mar’Nijah’s father was not in any way responsible for the boy’s death. The school district had no record of the fight.

Officers visiting the school spoke to two teachers, according to the affidavit.

One teacher told officers that she had not seen any fight, but that one student told her Mar’Nijah had hit him in the stomach, according to the affidavit.

Neither teacher heard of Mar’Nijah being hit and they both said that he was in good health when they saw him, according to the affidavit.

The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the cause of death undetermined, but an investigator with the office said that bruising and abrasions on Mar’Nijah’s face were not consistent with lifesaving techniques, according to the affidavit.

The investigator said the injuries would have caused Mar’Nijah injury and pain, according to the affidavit.

The Galveston County District Attorney’s office Tuesday recommended charges of injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury, according to the affidavit.

Texas City police, with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, arrested Brown Friday without incident, police said.

Brown was transported to the Galveston County jail and his bond was set at $25,000.

Before living with his father, Mar’Nijah lived with Carolyn Stewart, his grandmother.

Before Brown’s arrest, he and Stewart had been involved in a legal dispute over what to do with the boy’s body.

A Galveston County Probate Court judge in January postponed a hearing on who would receive the body, pending the ongoing investigation in the case.

That delayed hearing has now been postponed indefinitely, said Tim Beeton, an attorney representing Stewart.

“It’s a sad circumstance,” Beeton said. “The maternal side of Mar’Nijah’s family and the paternal side have been talking about an agreed way to have a funeral service and burial for the child.

“There are more people involved than just the two parents and even the grandparents. A whole community is grieving. If an agreement comes to fruition, which is the right thing to do, there will be no need to involve the probate court.”

Contact reporter Matthew deGrood at 409-683-5230 or matthew.degrood@galvnews.com

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(1) comment

Lisa Gray

Horrible and disturbing that in this day and age, a child can be beaten to death by the very people who are supposed to love, treasure and raise them. May this little boy be free of the torment and horror he surely lived. I would like to call the person who beat this child to death an animal, but animals don't do this to their young. I am sickened by the horror and brutality of this.

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