Mom and boyfriend who beat 4-year-old boy to death for spilling his cereal convicted
20-year-old Lisa Smith, and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Keiff King have been charged with murder, child endangerment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault after Smith's son, Tahjir was found beaten to death and scalded with hot water
A Philadelphia couple has been convicted in the death of a four-year-old child. The pair, 20-year-old Lisa Smith and her boyfriend 27-year-old Keiff King had been charged with murder, child endangerment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault after Smith's son, Tahjir, was found beaten to death and scalded with hot water.
The child was punished for spilling his cereal on the morning of January 22, 2018. The prosecutors told the court on Thursday, June 20, that the child had spent the last few hours of his life bruised and burned, soaked in his urine, terrified of what was happening to him. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the couple was trying to discipline the boy, who weighed 42 pounds. They beat him up till he almost passed out and then had him shower in extremely hot water. It was only when the mother saw that he wasn't responding that she called 911.
The child had 10 fractures on eight ribs and deep scars on his back that could have come from being beaten with a belt. He also had a black eye and Smith said that she had dragged him on the carpet giving him a rug burn in the past. He was also beaten with footwear leaving his bottom swollen. Before his death, the beatings had broken through the fatty tissue which caused toxins to be released into his bloodstream. It caused him to go into a shock. His brain was swollen and he had a fresh second-degree burn on his shoulder.
Smith also reportedly had a cover story about what happened to her son. The then 19-year-old mother wrapped him up in thick warm clothes and went a few blocks away with him in her arms, so she could tell authorities she was coming from the bus stop when her baby suddenly had an asthma attack. However, when emergency responders came to the rescue, she is said to have put the baby quickly in the paramedic's care and walked away. "She never asked about Tahjir’s condition," First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr. said. "You know why she never asked? She knows he's dead."
In his closing argument to the jury, he said, "He was brutalized over and over and over again. This is not discipline gone bad. You know this."
The couple's defense attorneys argued that they had no intention of killing him. Carrie Allman, Smith's lawyer said that Smith was six months pregnant with King's child at the time and that she loved her son. However, she was burdened with caring for both her child as well as King's two children. Francis Genovese, King's lawyer, said that King did not have a motive for murder. "What motive did Mr. King have to kill a four-year-old child?" he asked. "Because he spilled cereal? Because he peed himself? It makes no sense."
The two are at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, being held without bail. Their sentencing date is yet to be scheduled.