A New York woman admitted in court testimony that she repeatedly beat her 6-year-old son but that it was her boyfriend who killed the boy three years ago.
While on the stand, Geraldine Perkins, 29, cried while testifying before a Manhattan Supreme Court jury Tuesday on how she would use a belt to beat her son, Zymere Perkins, rather than her hands, because she suffers from Lupus and her “hands aren’t healthy,” according to The New York Daily News. Perkins was on the stand to testify against Rysheim Smith, 45, who is currently on trial for second-degree murder. Geraldine previously pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges.
The medical examiner ruled Zymere’s death a homicide caused by fatal child abuse syndrome. He had allegedly been beaten with a broomstick by Smith and then hung from the back of a door by his shirt, according to NBC4, which obtained the criminal complaint.
On the stand, Geraldine recounted how she was ill-prepared to raise her son and how they lived in homeless shelters once her grandmother kicked her out of her house for beating Zymere.
“It was hard. I mean, I’m a single parent. I’m a new parent. I didn’t know how to raise him,” Perkins said while crying on the stand. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”
She also admitted that she became a sex worker so she could feed her son — and that even though the homeless shelter required that she attend parenting lessons, she didn’t much pay attention to what she was being taught.
“Maybe I didn’t pick up on the lessons they were giving me,” Perkins said on the stand, according to the Daily News. “I didn’t cherish it. I didn’t hold onto those lessons they taught me.”
After Zymere died, New York officials ordered an investigation and learned that the city’s Administration of Children and Family Services had known about the child’s turbulent home life from five separate incidents, dating back to 2010. Several people were fired from the agency as a result.
On Monday, Zymere’s former kindergarten teacher, Josefina Gutierrez, testified and told jurors that she eventually stopped calling Zymere’s house to report when he misbehaved in school because she was fearful that he was getting abused at home. She cited one incident when Smith told her to mention his name to Zymere when he is misbehaving and said that when she did, she’ll never forget the look of fear in the boy’s eyes.
On the stand Tuesday, Perkins reportedly called Smith “wonderful” and said he was like a “father figure for my child.”
“He played with him. He cut his hair most of the time. He bought toys for him. He read the bible to him,” Perkins said. News outlets reported that Perkins appeared nervous to testify with Smith in the courtroom.