Who is Rysheim Smith? NYC man, 46, who tortured and thrashed Zymere Perkins, 6, to death gets 25-year jail
Warning: Graphic content
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: A Harlem man convicted of the murder of his girlfriend’s 6-year-old son was hit with the maximum prison term on Monday, May 17, by a judge who rejected his plea in court claiming that he “loved” the boy.
Rysheim Smith, 46, was sentenced to 25 years to life in the 2016 death of Zymere Perkins in Manhattan Supreme Court. Smith was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges in the case in January 2021 after what Judge Ruth Pickholz described as a “long and difficult” trial that included horrific photos of the youngster’s injuries. “Despite how the prosecution has spoken about me, I loved Zymere Perkins,” Smith claimed in court. “I put emphasis on that.” Zymere died on September 26, 2016, after months of abuse by his parents, including beatings with a broomstick. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
“I do accept responsibility for him being in a toxic environment,” he said. “I don’t have the financial means to take him out of it, though I was starting to.” But the judge didn’t buy it.
Across four weeks, prosecutors detailed how Smith starved and tortured his son for months, before killing him on September 6, 2016, when Zymere defecated inside the family’s Harlem home, bludgeoning the boy with a broomstick while the child’s mother did nothing.
“He picked up Zymere, held him by the arm and began to beat him with a stick like he was a little piñata,” Assistant District Attorney Kerry O’Connell said during one of the earlier trials. “Tellingly, he did not call out to his mother... because he knew his mother was not going to protect him.”
Smith then shoved the boy under a cold shower and hung him on a hook, wet and unconscious, prosecutors said. In one final act of cruelty, he threw Zymere against a wall and the little boy crumpled to the ground where he lay while the man went out to get food. When Perkins finally checked on him, Zymere was likely already dead, the jurors heard. At the time of his death, Zymere had more than 30 rib fractures and weighed just 35 pounds, the average size of a four-year-old boy, Dr Susan Ely, a city medical examiner, testified during the trial.
“This boy, this child, this 6-year-old innocent existed in a living hell,” Pickholz said in court. “He was tortured. He was starved. He was forced to stand at night and not lay down. Yes, his teachers tried.” “This child did not see any love at home. He died a horrible death," she added. The jury found that he died at the hands of his father, Smith.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry O’Connell stated that Smith also shoved Zymere into a cold shower then hung him wet and unconscious from a hook before dumping the boy into the wall.
“(Zymere) didn’t have to imagine anything to be afraid of,” O’Connell said during closing arguments. “He didn’t have monsters. He had two horrible human beings living down the hall next to him.” She added Smith and the boy’s mother “are both equally responsible for his depraved murder.”
Zymere’s mother, Geraldine Perkins, also reported seeing Smith punching her son in the ribs and stomach and admitted she also beat him. She received a plea deal to testify at the trial in exchange for a two to six-year sentence.