Six-year-old Zymere Perkins [photo], was was beaten with a broken broomstick and hung to die on the back of a bathroom door by his mother’s boyfriend in Sept. 2018
Zymere Perkins was killed on Sept. 26, 2016, in the roach and maggot-infested apartment where he lived with his mother Geraldine Perkins in Harlem, according to authorities.
In her opening argument at Manhattan Supreme Court, Assistant District Attorney Kerry O’Connell told jurors an enraged Rysheim Smith killed his girlfriend’s son, who suffered from bed wetting and other issues as a result of trauma, because he had defecated in the living room and tried to hide the waste.
“He picked up Zymere, held him by the arm and began to beat him with a stick like a piñata,” she said.
Six-year-old Zymere Perkins was beaten, starved and tortured by his mother’s boyfriend for more than a year as she stood by silently — until the little boy finally gave up, prosecutors argued Monday as Smith’s murder trial began.
“He died almost one cell a time,” said Assistant DA Kerry O’Connell in her heartbreaking opening statements for the Manhattan Supreme Court trial of Rysheim Smith.
The prosecutor detailed the little boy’s final agonizing hours on Sept. 26, 2016, in a squalid apartment infested with roaches and covered in mold following what she described as prolonged and merciless abuse by Smith.
Ryshiem Smith is seen before openings in his trial in State Supreme Court in New York on Monday
O’Connell told the court of how Smith allegedly took the limp boy to the bathroom, where he “waterboarded him in the shower,” dropped him to the floor, beat his head with a shower rod and when he finally lost consciousness hung him on the back of the bathroom door by his t-shirt.
Jurors heard little Zymere, who Smith starved, forced to take cold showers and do push ups, endured months of abuse in the year leading to his death.
“He has broken ribs on broken ribs,” O’Connell said. “This child had more fractures than he had ribs.”
In gruesome detail, O’Connell told jurors how flies had laid eggs in the fecal matter embedded in the apartment’s carpet causing the floor to crawl with maggots.
“That’s the room Zymere Perkins slept in,” she said. “In a makeshift bed in a corner of the living room.”
Zymere’s mother, Geraldine Perkins is seen in Manhattan Criminal Court during her arraignment Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. She pled guilty to second-degree murder and has been held in custody since
Ryshiem Smith, 45, is charged with the murder of Zymere Perkins in September 2016.
Perkins, 28, pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 2017. She has been in custody for three years and is expected to receive a two-to-six year sentence in exchange for her cooperation.
Jurors heard of how Smith, who met Perkins on the street, began beating little Zymere early in the couple’s relationship and forced his mother to “emulate” the same violence against her son under the guise of discipline.
“Zymere was disciplined by Rysheim Smith because he thought it would make a man out of a boy,” O’Connell said.
The prosecutor said a fragile Perkins entrusted her new boyfriend with her Lupus medication, her welfare card and her cellphone.
“And disciplinary authority over Zymere,” O’Connell added. “She put a man’s importance to her ahead of the life and welfare of her child.”
A fragile Geraldine Perkins entrusted her new boyfriend Smith [photo], with her Lupus medication, her welfare card and her cellphone with disastrous consequences
Zymere’s death exposed egregious misconduct at the Administration for Child Services and led to the resignation of the agency’s commissioner, Gladys Carrion.
Three ACS workers were fired in the wake of Zymere’s death over the botched handling of his case. The state also hired an independent monitor to oversee the troubled agency.
State and city probes revealed the agency had closed an investigation without fully looking into allegations of severe corporal punishment suffered by the boy — including up to five welfare reports filed on Zymere’s behalf which essentially went ignored.
O’Connell told jurors they will hear about an anonymous tip the agency received in 2015 alleging Smith had smacked Zymere at least 20 times at a picnic.
Jurors will also hear about how Zymere told ACS workers in interviews that his mom’s boyfriend hit him and forced him to take ice-cold showers as punishment, O’Connell said.
Defense attorney Heather Smith told jurors that Perkins, not her boyfriend, was to blame for her son’s death, characterizing her as a “profoundly unreliable person” who will say anything to avoid jail time.
“There is no reliable evidence that Rysheim’s actions caused Zymere’s death,” she said.
“(Perkins) is a known liar with every incentive to lie to save her own life.”
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