Couple who beat 4-year-old to death over spilled cereal spending rest of their lives in prison

Jim Melwert
July 31, 2019 - 5:27 pm

Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio


NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Willow Grove couple who beat a 4-year-old boy to death because he spilled his cereal are on their way to state prison, where they’ll spend the rest of their lives.

Montgomery County Judge Risa Ferman told Kieff King what he and Lisa Smith did to 4-year-old Tahjir Smith is "the stuff horror movies are made of."

And the judge told Smith her actions made the last few months of her own son’s life a torture chamber.

She sentenced 27-year-old King and 20-year-old Smith each to life in prison along with an additional 15-to-30 years behind bars.

Related: Couple on trial for murder, accused of beating 4-year-old to death for spilling cereal

Prosecutor Ed McCann said Smith’s own words show how terrified the boy was of his own mother.

"He spills his cereal and he’s so afraid, he’s running away and he’s stuttering about it when he’s confronted about it and he urinates on himself. That just speaks to the kind of fear he was in at this point." McCann said. 

Smith’s attorney detailed the abuse she suffered when she was a child, saying she got pregnant with Tahjir when she was sexually assaulted when she was 13. 

Ferman noted adults completely failed her and this is the collateral damage of child abuse, and many people "have Tahjir’s blood on their hands." 

At trial, the medical examiner testified the injuries Tahjir suffered from being beaten by a flip flop by Smith and King were similar to injuries people suffer in building collapses. He also had scars on his back from being hit by a belt and previous rib fractures from being squeezed.