A mother and her boyfriend are accused of beating her 4-year-old son to death after he spilled breakfast cereal.
Lisa Smith, 19, and Keiff King, 26, both of Willow Grove in Abington Township, are charged with aggravated assault, criminal attempted murder, endangering the welfare of a child and other related offenses.
The incident occurred inside Smith and King's home on the 1800 block of Lukens Avenue Monday, police said. Smith allegedly told detectives her 4-year-old son Tahjir Smith spilled breakfast cereal on the floor and she later confronted him about it. Smith then told her son to get in a "position" similar to a men's pushup position but the boy moved, investigators said.
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Police say Smith then spoke with King, her boyfriend, about her son's behavior. King later allegedly punched the boy in the back of the head inside a bedroom. He and Smith then placed the boy on a bed and repeatedly struck him on the head and torso with a blue "Levi's" sandal, officials said. They then placed the boy in the shower and he became unresponsive soon after, according to the criminal complaint.
Smith told police she began to panic and called 911 while King dressed the unresponsive boy and carried him outside, investigators said.
Abington Township Police and paramedics responded to the home shortly after 6 p.m. Monday and took the boy to Abington Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
"This senseless death of a 4-year-old boy at the hands of the very adults who are supposed to care for him and keep him safe is a horrible tragedy," said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele. "This is the face of domestic violence -- a preschooler was beaten until he stopped breathing because he spilled his cereal."
Officials are working to confirm an official cause of death though investigators say the boy was also suffering from old rib fractures. Police also say Smith admitted to previously beating the boy with shoes on prior occasions as "punishment" when he misbehaved.
Both suspects were arraigned after they each failed to post $500,000 bail. They were remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.