Exclusive: Mom of beaten child speaks

June 12, 2008 6:33:57 AM PDT
The biological mother of 3-year-old Kyle Smith, who was brutally beaten to death, spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News about her son. She is a former drug user who gave up custody to fight her addiction. She believed Kyle was growing up in a loving home, but police say he was brutalized and beaten. So who is to blame for this tragic and vicious death that has stunned so many?

The Investigators' Jim Hoffer has the exclusive report.

This is not someone hiding from her responsibility in all of this. She admits she made big mistakes. She wishes she could have been stronger for her child. It is a painful honestly from a young mother riddled with remorse and still trying to understand what happened.

"That's the last image of my son that I'm going to see," Kyle's mother, Gina Holmes, said.

Just moment after Holmes saw her son lying in the morgue, she told us her side of the story.

"And him to just lay there on that table, I just wanted to touch him," she said. "I just wanted to touch him."

Photographs of the 22-year-old mother and her son reveal a love that survived months of separation and even her struggle with drugs, a demon that Gina says she finally defeated.

"I'm clean," she said. "I just got married. And my husband and I were talking about taking Kyle back with us."

She never got that chance to bring her boy home. Last Saturday, Nymeen Cheatham and her live-in boyfriend were charged in the fatal beating of little Klye. Gina had placed her 3-year-old in their care so she could battle her drug problem and put her life back together.

Holmes: "It wasn't like there was other people offering to help, and I just decided I'm going to give him to her." Hoffer: "You thought you could trust her?" Holmes: "Yeah, this was someone I knew for years. It wasn't like she came out of the blue and this was someone that I had moved back to New York and recently came in contact with."

She even went to court to help her friend, Cheatham, get guardianship of Kyle. What she did not know was that Cheatham had given up custody of four of her own children just a few years ago.

Hoffer: "You didn't know that she gave up custody?"
Holmes: "No."
Hoffer: "You didn't know that she abandoned her children for long periods of time?"
Holmes: "She never told any of us."
Hoffer: "You thought she loved Klye?"
Holmes: "I knew, I knew that she did."

Gina had made real progress rebuilding her life in South Carolina, going back to work as a restaurant manager and recently getting married.

Hoffer: "Do you blame yourself at all?"
Holmes: "Yeah, I blame myself sometimes for not being strong enough to do it. We all played a part in not caring for him at one point or another and not supporting him."

She knows she can't let regrets pull her back. Gina has one other son living with his grandmother, and this time she hopes to make it right.

"I can't stop building, I've already laid the foundation down," she said. "I have to continue to go on. I have a 6-year-old son I have to get back and I have to make sure his future is the brightest thing that it can be."

Gina says she and her husband had been looking at a two-bedroom house they wanted to rent so they could bring Kyle home to live with them.