Prosecutors: 4-year-old beaten to death for spilling cereal

WILLOW GROVE, Pa. — A mother and her boyfriend have been arrested and charged for allegedly beating a 4-year-old boy to death for spilling his breakfast cereal.

Following the boy's autopsy, Lisa Smith, 19, and Keiff King, 26, were charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of 4-year-old Tahjir Smith, the district attorney's office said Friday.

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According to the arrest affidavit, officials responded to a report of a respiratory emergency. When they arrived on the scene, they found Smith, who was six months pregnant at the time, wandering around outside her home. The 4-year-old boy was found unresponsive and limp, lying nearby. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

According to ABC7, Smith confessed that she and King were disciplining the boy for spilling his cereal. She said that they made him get into a push-up position and hold it for a long period of time. She then stated that they "laid the boy on the bed with his pants and underwear removed, grabbed a blue Levi's sandal and repeatedly struck him,"

“[They struck] his body so hard there were pattern imprints on the boy’s buttocks when the police were finally called,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said.

Smith said that King punched her son in the back of the head before putting him in a scalding shower, which left burns on the boys' body. 

"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," Steele said, according to ABC7.

Smith and King are both being held without bail.

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