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Son of Sebrina Martin recounts home environment that caused her to lose custody

The court order detailed the bruising of Jonathan Martin as a key indicator of a “pattern of domestic violence” in the home.

The now-adult son of Sebrina Martin, an unopposed Democratic nominee for family court judge in Montgomery, has come forward with his own recounting of what life was like in her home between 2010 and 2012.

Jonathan Martin, now 21, joins his sisters Jasmine and Sydney in detailing allegations of excessive corporal punishment that resulted in an Indiana court removing six children from Sebrina Martin’s care in 2013. Jonathan reached out to APR following the publication of Thursday’s article wanting to recount his childhood.

“It felt like a bad story; it didn’t feel real,” Jonathan said. “It felt like there was no escaping it.”

The court order notes the bruising of Jonathan as a key piece of evidence in establishing the existence of excessive corporal punishment and noted that the bruising is “evidence of a pattern of domestic violence” within the home.

It was Jesse Hiefner, Sebrina Martin’s then-boyfriend and now-husband, that had done the whipping of Jonathan that had caused the bruising, Jonathan said.

“He would hit me with all his force, man,” Jonathan said. “It damn near felt like he was trying to take out aggression, not necessarily for what I did.”

According to Jonathan, Sebrina encouraged Heifner to engage in the punishment.

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“She would say, like, ‘Whoop his ass.’ Sebrina was the one that controlled everything,” Jonathan said.

He also remembered a particular incident with the nanny, Brenda Harvey, who Sebrina Martin brought to live in the home. He said he had just finished swimming and Harvey whipped him. Then he went back outside, where Jasmine was still in the pool. Jasmine asked whether he was OK.

“Brenda yelled at her ‘Don’t ask if he’s OK,’ then pulled me by my hair into the room, hitting me and slapping me and pulling me to the ground. She told me ‘You don’t go back out there after I do that.’”

Jonathan remembers the initial excitement he felt when removed from his biological family.

“What really hurt me the worst was like, OK I get taken away from my biological parents, I think life is going to be better now and then all that happens,” Jonathan said. “I felt like maybe this is what I deserve for life. Maybe I just get dealt the shit hand and that’s what I’m going to get for life … I remember countless times sitting in the bathroom just looking at myself in the mirror like ‘This is the rest of my life. This is what it’s going to be like.’”

Jonathan said it felt surreal when his father, Michael Martin, gained custody of the children in 2013.

“When my dad finally got custody everything felt fake for like three months,” Jonathan said. “It felt like he saved me, he felt like Superman in that case.”

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Some of his family was aware that Sebrina Martin was still in Montgomery practicing family law and even working her way up to a run for family court judge.

Jonathan only found out when speaking with his family about the APR article last week.

“I didn’t keep up at all with what she was doing,” Jonathan said. “I was 100 percent done, I didn’t care about her, I don’t care about her. What I thought was real weird about all that was she said something about someone saying negative things on the radio. And someone said ‘We keep things positive because that’s what Sebrina does for the kids.’ I can’t look back and think of one thing positive she’s ever said or done for us. She took us out of a bad home but, in my opinion, probably put us in a worse one.”

The Democratic Party has the full authority and power to remove Sebrina Martin as its nominee and choose someone else instead. Chris England, chairman of the party, had no comment at the time of publication. 

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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