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Harlem man convicted of beating 6-year-old Zymere Perkins to death in 2016

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Justice has finally come for a 6-year-old boy who was beaten to death in Harlem back in 2016.

On Jan. 15, Ryshiem Smith, 45, was convicted of murder in connection to the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins. He was also convicted of manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

“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,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “As proven at trial, Zymere was an innocent and helpless six-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, and I’d like to thank the members of that jury for their careful attention during this heartbreaking case.”

According to court documents, starting in June 2015 Smith repeatedly assaulted Perkins, who is now-ex-his girlfriend’s son. For 15 months, Smith frequently beat the child with a broomstick and other objects, as well as punched him in the ribs and stomach on multiple occasions. 

On Sept. 26, 2016, Smith severely beat Perkins with sticks and other objects and hung him on a clothes hook by the neck of his shirt. Smith also threw the child against a wall and left him for hours without medical attention. 

Perkins was later taken to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  Officers that responded to the scene noted that the apartment Perkins was living in did not have electricity and had large amounts of mold, rust, and mildew, as well as infestations of cockroaches and other vermin. Perkins’ death was later ruled to be caused by fatal child abuse syndrome due to both acute and chronic injuries.

In an unrelated incident, Smith was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a different child on Aug. 31, 2015, by causing an incident that left the child unattended. 

Smith is expected to return to court for sentencing on March 27.

Emily Davenport