Zymere Perkins murder: Harlem man found guilty on all charges

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
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Darla Miles reports on the guilty verdict in the killing of a 6-year-old boy.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- The man accused of beating and torturing a 6-year-old boy who died in a filthy Harlem apartment with no electricity was found guilty of all charges Wednesday.

More than three years after Zymere Perkins was killed, his mother's boyfriend, 42-year-old Rysheim Smith, was convicted of second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

The jury deliberated for a little over a day.

Perkins died September 26, 2016, after what prosecutors say was months of abuse by his mother and her boyfriend, and the case prompted changes within the city's Administration of Children's Services.

The child's mother, Geraldine Perkins, testified against Smith after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

"The death of Zymere Perkins was an unthinkable tragedy that sent shock waves 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. "As proven at trial, Zymere was an innocent and helpless 6-year-old boy who suffered unconscionable, ongoing violence at the hands of Rysheim Smith. Now, a Manhattan jury has rightly held the defendant accountable for this horrific murder."

Smith's attorney attempted to pin the murder on the boy's mother..

"She killed her little boy," Defense Attorney Arnold Levine said during his closing argument. "He went through hell, but nobody can say who did it."

The defense claimed there were inconsistencies in what she told police and in her testimony, but ultimately, the jury determined that didn't matter.

Investigators say Zymere Perkins had been beaten with sticks, belts, and fists over 15 months. Prosecutors said he was covered in bruises and had 30 breaks in his ribs.

Geraldine Perkins carried her son's lifeless body out of their apartment and took him to the hospital on the day he died.

Smith faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.


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