Boyfriend charged with endangering boy who died

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A man has been charged with child endangering in the beating death of his girlfriend's 9-year-old adopted son.

The charge was filed Monday against Emery Martin, 27, who was being held pending $500,000 bail.

The beating victim, Reece Mushrush, was born prematurely in October 1993 and struggled with health problems all his life.

When he died Saturday, he had suffered blows to the face, ribs and head, resulting in a blood clot in the brain, Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap said, citing a coroner's report.

Dunlap said Reece's body showed he had suffered bruises mostly in the 48 hours before his death.

Deputies were called to the couple's house at 11:54 p.m. Friday. Reece was pronounced dead at LakeEast Hospital at 12:23 a.m. Saturday. Dunlap said Martin and his girlfriend, Heather Mushrush, were at the house when deputies arrived.

Martin's mother, Rose Burnett, of Painesville, said Martin had said he couldn't handle the pressure of dealing with Reece's special needs.

Dunlap said that Reese had an artificial breathing hole, was taking anti-psychotic drugs and had asthma.

Heather Mushrush and Martin lived in a house with four children ranging in age from toddler to pre-teen. The youngest of the children was their natural child.

The oldest boy was adopted by Mushrush in 1994. Reece was adopted in 1996 when Mushrush, a single mother, was living in Akron. The second-youngest child was from another relationship.

In November 1996, the Mushrush family was honored as adoptive family of the year by the Summit County Human Services Department.

The award referred to Reece as a "bright, happy, well-adjusted little boy" and commended Heather Mushrush for bonding with Reece and the older boy.

Jack Miley, the principal of Hale Road Elementary School, which Reece had attended for the last four years, said the third-grader was known by many of the school's 360 students.

"He's a great little guy. Everyone in the building knew Reece and we loved him dearly," Miley said. "His way showing it back was a big smile and periodic hugs, even though he had a lot of difficulties."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)