NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges in the death his girlfriend’s son – 6-year-old Zymere Perkins – in Harlem last fall.
Rysheim Smith, 42, was charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter, and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
He was also charged with endangering the welfare of a second child whom he allegedly left unattended on Aug. 31, 2015.
Zymere died on Sept. 26, and the New York City Medical Examiner’s office ruled that his death was caused by fatal child abuse syndrome – meaning Zymere had evidence of acute and chronic abuse in the form of fresh injuries and old scars.
Court documents indicated that beginning in June 2015, Smith repeatedly assaulted Zymere. Over the next 15 months, prosecutors alleged that Smith frequently beat the boy with a broomstick and other objects, and punched him in the ribs and stomach.
The day Zymere died, prosecutors alleged Smith severely beat him with sticks and other objects, hung him on a clothes hook by the neck of his shirt, threw him against a wall, and left him for hours without medical attention.
Zymere’s mother, Geraldine Perkins, 26, has been charged with child endangerment in the case.
The Administration for Children’s Services has also taken heat in the case, following allegations that the agency failed to take action despite multiple contacts with Zymere’s mother and her boyfriend.
The ACS complaint reports contained repeated claims of drug and alcohol abuse by Zymere’s family, excessive corporal punishment, and inadequate guardianship of Zymere by his mother and her boyfriend, the state said.
“The level of casework activity for all cases was insufficient and was particularly lacking given the family circumstances,” the OCFS report said.
Following the release of the state report, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that three ACS employees involved in Zymere’s case had been fired, and the city had also moved to suspend and demote six more employees.
De Blasio further announced that a new “independent monitor” would watch over the agency, as the state ordered. The ACS vowed to institute stronger vetting to hire the right people, as well as enhanced training, lower caseloads per employee, and more managerial oversight within ACS.