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Mother of slain 6-year-old South L.A. boy describes heartache and broken trust

Dayvon Taylor
Dayvon Taylor, 6, died the day after Christmas. His godfather has been charged with his murder.
(Family photo)

The supervisor seemed beloved by children at the elementary school where Kenya Taylor’s son, Dayvon, was a first-grader. Tyler Martin-Brand took Dayvon to movies and on play dates with other kids, Taylor said Monday.

The two grew so close, she made her boy his godson.

“He was a joyful person — kids were always with him,” Taylor said Monday. “They loved that coach.”

On Monday, Taylor described her son’s godfather, the supervisor of an after-school program at his South L.A. elementary school — and his alleged killer.

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Dayvon, 6, died at a Long Beach hospital the day after Christmas. He was “severely” beaten earlier that day by Martin-Brand at his Downey apartment, prosecutors alleged Monday in charging him with murder and assault on a child leading to a death.

“I wish somebody could get ahold of him and make him feel the way my heart feels, my family feels, my son felt,” Taylor said. “Never, never, never stop feeling it. I want him to suffer every day of his life.”

Martin-Brand, 23, made a brief appearance Monday in the Downey branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, where a judge continued his arraignment to Jan. 16 and set bail at $2 million. If convicted on both counts, Martin-Brand would face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Martin-Brand’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment. His family members, who packed the courtroom, declined to comment. More than a dozen of Dayvon’s relatives attended the proceeding as well. In an acknowledgment of the tension that filled the courtroom, sheriff’s deputies kept Martin-Brand out of view, in a side hallway where he was visible only to his attorney, the prosecution and the judge.

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Taylor said she first met Martin-Brand in the summer of 2018 at her son’s school, Normandie Avenue Elementary. He asked if he could take Dayvon to the movies, she said. Given that he was an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Taylor said she trusted he had been vetted and was safe for children to be around. Martin-Brand is a program supervisor for LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell after-school program, a district spokeswoman said.

Dayvon’s parents separated about four years ago, his father, David Nicholson, told The Times on Saturday. The two were co-parenting Dayvon and his younger sister. Nicholson told The Times his son’s mother had expressed that the boy needed a father figure, a role she told him Martin-Brand — whom she called “Coach Ty” — had stepped into.

“I kept hearing coach this, coach that,” Nicholson said. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy? Why is he spending time with my son?’”

About three months after meeting him, Taylor made Martin-Brand her son’s godfather because the two seemed to get along so well, she said.

“I got close to him. I put my trust in him,” she said. “I can’t believe it all came apart so fast.” She said she was never involved romantically with Martin-Brand.

Taylor declined to discuss the day of Dayvon’s death, saying only that she left her son in Martin-Brand’s care on Christmas because she was moving and wanted to surprise her son with the new apartment. Martin-Brand brought Dayvon to her apartment the following day, she said.

According to Downey police, who are investigating the boy’s death, Dayvon was taken that evening to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach with life-threatening injuries and died shortly after arriving. His death was ruled a homicide; Martin-Brand was arrested that day.

Before the boy’s death, Taylor said she saw nothing to indicate or suggest Dayvon was being abused. “I wouldn’t have tolerated it,” she said.


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