New details have emerged about the case of a Pennsylvania couple accused of brutally beating a 4-year-old child to death because he spilled his cereal.
Authorities allege that Lisa Smith, 19 and her boyfriend Keiff King, 26, hit Tahjir Smith repeatedly in the head and torso, CBS Philly reports.
The abuse reportedly occurred at the family’s home, where living conditions were deplorable, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
“There were insects and roaches in the house,” Steele said.
Smith and King have admitted to investigators that they gave Tahjir a “butt whooping” using their hands.
Court records show Smith, who is pregnant, first told investigators that her son became “wobbly” and was struggling to breathe while they were walking home from a mall.
Authorities have determined that the child was often required to stay in a push-up position for long periods of time.
The television station now reports that Tahjir dropped a knee while in this position on the day he died, prompting Smith and King to strike him on his head and body using a sandal.
“[They struck] his body so hard there were pattern imprints on the boy’s buttocks when the police were finally called,” Steele said.
Afterward, Smith and King allegedly gave the child a scalding hot shower because he urinated on himself.
When police and rescue crews got to the house, they found the child “limp and unresponsive.”
He was pronounced dead later at Abington Jefferson Health Hospital.
Records of an autopsy conducted on the boy show he died “from multiple blunt injuries, thermal injuries and shock,” which confirmed that the cause of death was homicide.
Steele called Tahjir’s death a “senseless killing.”
“The forensic pathologist’s determination that Tahjir’s death was homicide shows what detectives found in our investigation — that this was a violent, sustained beating of a 4-year-old that caused his death,” Steel said.
He added: “It was a beating at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend and the mother, the very person entrusted to care for the boy.”
The couple each has been charged with first-degree murder. They are scheduled to appear in court later this month.
[Featured image: Lisa Smith and Keiff King/Montgomery County District Attorney]