Father accused of beating, killing toddler in Kissimmee



KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A Kissimmee father is facing first-degree murder charges in the death of his 16-month-old girl.

An autopsy showed 23-year-old Anthony Martin's daughter, Avahya, was killed after being beaten. The medical examiner's report shows the young girl had severe damage to her head and organs.

Investigators said after nearly a month-long investigation Martin confessed to killing his daughter.

Avahya's mother, Takita Tillman, told Channel 9 she saw the warning signs but didn't want to believe them. She said Avahya loved smiling and waving at everyone and blowing kisses.

Tillman also said Avahya was afraid of her father but no one really understood why.   

The medical examiner wrote in a report that the toddler had swelling in her brain and a lacerated liver when she was taken to the hospital on May 23.

The 18-year-old Tillman is a high school senior and was on her school bus when her baby was being taken to the hospital that night.

"I would not think that my daughter would be gone before me," she said. "I had bigger hopes for her, everything. We both had bigger hopes for her, and that's why I don't understand."

Tillman said she asked Martin repeatedly what happened but said he denied any wrongdoing even though people inside the home said they heard the baby screaming the night of her death when Martin was in charge of taking care of her.

"It hurts my heart that he was capable of doing what he did," said Tillman.

Martin also faces charges of aggravated child abuse. He's being held on no bond.