NEWARK — An ex-con from Union Township now has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend's young son in Newark.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said on Wednesday that the death of 7-year-old Aydin Brown has been ruled a homicide and that the cause of death is blunt force injury. Prosecutors did not explain how exactly the child was killed or what motivated the Brown.

Mark Harper, 36, was arrested Monday evening was charged then with endangering the welfare of a child. The murder charge was announced Wednesday.

Brown was a second-grade student at University Charter School in Newark. He died at a hospital on Monday morning after being found passed out at home. An autopsy was done by the New Jersey Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark. 

Harper has been held in Essex County Jail, pending a detention hearing in Superior Court in Newark.

He has a criminal record that includes a 9-year sentence in 2006 on drug dealing and resisting arrest charges. He was also convicted in 2012 on aggravated assault charges and has been arrested for parole violation.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Prosecutor's Tips Line at 877-847-7432.

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