Rysheim Smith, of New York, was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend’s 6-year-old son and now faces a life sentence.
Smith, 49, was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Zymere Perkins on Sept. 26, 2016, after repeated incidents of abuse were detailed during trial. Prosecutors said Smith beat Zymere with a broken broomstick while forcing him to take a cold shower – essentially waterboarding the child – and then hung him from the back of a door by his shirt, according to NBC4. The harsh punishment was in response to the boy defecating in the living room.
During trial, a medical expert testified that Zymere had at least 30 rib fractures, which is consistent with repeated punches to the chest. The medical examiner ruled Zymere’s death a homicide caused by fatal child abuse syndrome.
Jurors deliberated for two days before returning with the guilty verdict. Smith will be sentenced on March 27.
“The death of Zymere Perkins was an unthinkable tragedy that sent shockwaves through the city and inspired a reckoning with how our social services system works to protect New York’s most vulnerable,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement to PEOPLE magazine.
Zymere’s mother Geraldine Perkins, who was reportedly present for many of the beatings yet did nothing, plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter and faces two to six years in jail. Perkins, 29, cried while testifying against Smith last month.
“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.”
Prosecutors say Perkins told investigators that before she brought her son to the hospital, she read her Bible, did her makeup and put on a wig, according to PEOPLE.
The murder shocked New York and resulted in the firings of several employees from the city’s Administration of Children and Family Services.