A man got the maximum prison sentence for killing an innocent six-year-old Harlem boy, who was his girlfriend's son.
Rysheim Smith, 42, has been sentenced to prison after being convicted of murder after killing his girlfriend, Geraldine Perkins' six-year-old son, Zymere Perkins, in 2016.
Smith was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on five counts related to the death and abuse of Zymere. He will serve his sentences concurrently and was charged with murder, manslaughter, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Rysheim Smith pictured in the court room, during his sentencing. | Photo: YouTube/Eyewitness News ABC7NY
He was found guilty in January 2020 and was supposed to be sentenced in March 2020, but the sentencing was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He was sentenced in May 2021.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance shared a statement following Smith's conviction. Vance thanked the jury for bringing justice to the man who showed great violence to an innocent child as he said:
"Now, a Manhattan jury has rightly held the defendant accountable for this horrific murder, and I’d like to thank the members of that jury for their careful attention."
Zymere passed away in September 2016, after Smith beat him with a broomstick and hung him by his shirt on the back of a door. His mother took him to the hospital, where he later died.
His death sent shock waves through New York. It highlighted how the social services systems could fail to save the community's most valuable individuals. It exposed the misconduct of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
Zymere's former kindergarten school teacher, Josefina Gutierrez, testified at the trial.
Zymere's death and the handling of his case led to the resignation of the welfare agency’s commissioner Gladys Carrion and the firing of a few employees of the agency.
The welfare agency had been aware of Zymere's condition and had opened five different cases on his family from 2010. In 2010 Perkins and Smith were investigated for using drugs and later for using corporal punishment on Zymere.
Zymere's mother testified in the court proceedings and admitted that she had used a belt to beat Zymere to protect her own hands because she had lupus. She was charged in connection to Zymere's death too.
Before her testimony, she was charged with second-degree manslaughter concerning her son's death. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as "Fatal Child Abuse Syndrome."
Zymere's former kindergarten school teacher, Josefina Gutierrez, testified at the trial. Zymere had previously shown up to school with a broken jaw, visible bruises, and busted teeth.
Gutierrez told the jury that she stopped calling Zymere's parents to inform them if he misbehaved in fear that it would result in the young child getting physically punished.
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