WILLOW GROVE, PA — A woman and her boyfriend allegedly beat her four-year-old child to death after he spilled his cereal, prosecutors say.
Police have charged the boy’s mother, Lisa Smith, 19, and her boyfriend, Keiff King, 26, with aggravated assault, attempted murder, and other related charges in connection with the death of Smith’s son Tahjir.
“This senseless death of a four-year-old boy at the very hands of the adults who are supposed to care for him and keep him safe is a horrible tragedy,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “This is the face of domestic violence: A preschooler was beaten until he stopped breathing because he spilled his cereal.”
Smith told police that after her son spilled the cereal, she and King made him get into a push-up position. She said they then “laid the boy on the bed with his pants and underwear removed, grabbed a blue Levi’s sandal and repeatedly struck him” — and that King punched Tahjir in the back of the head before putting him into a scalding shower and burning him.
According to court documents, Smith, who is currently eight months pregnant, called police and began to walk down the street with her son once he became unresponsive. Paramedics who responded to the scene at around 6:10 P.M. took Tahjir to Abington Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said that the boy had “injuries inflicted from a sustained event,” and an autopsy also revealed old injuries, including rib fractures.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the child didn’t go through this the first time last night,” Steele added. “It’s gonna be our time to stand up for a child who can’t speak for himself anymore.”
Smith and King are currently behind bars at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, and bail for each of them has been set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for January 31.
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Main photo: Lisa Smith and Keiff King [Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office]