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

Jim Melwert
June 18, 2019 - 2:43 pm

Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Willow Grove couple is on trial for murder, accused of beating the woman's 4-year-old son so badly he died from his injuries. Prosecutors say it was punishment for the boy spilling his cereal. 

Forensic pathologist Ian Hood told the jury that to cause the injuries he observed on 4-year-old Tahjir Smith, “you’d have to hit very hard and you would have to hit a lot.”

Hood says the little boy died from multiple blunt force injuries, burns to his back and from shock.

Prosecutors say the boy's mother, 19-year-old Lisa Smith, and her boyfriend 26-year-old Kieff King, punished him after he spilled his cereal, hitting him dozens of times with a flip-flop and then putting him in a scalding hot shower.

King’s attorney Frank Genovese told the jury they could check off endangering the welfare of child, but he said like it or not, corporal punishment is still legal in Pennsylvania, and while they were reckless and negligent, this is not a murder as there was never intent or malice.

Smith’s lawyer Carrie Allman told the jury an outcome does not equal intent. She says it was a poor effort at discipline, but there was never intent to kill the boy.