NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City man was ordered held without bail on Wednesday amid allegations that he beat his 3-year-old stepdaughter to death in front of her brother after she soiled her diapers while their mother was away.
Kelsey Smith was arraigned on second-degree murder and other charges in the killing of Jeida Torres on Saturday in a Brooklyn homeless shelter. Smith appeared on a closed-circuit video feed from a hospital where authorities say he was being treated after trying to slit his wrists.
Before his arrest, Smith called the Torres's mother to tell her that he had hit the victim and that she wasn't breathing, according to a criminal complaint. The medical examiner found that the girl died from a blunt impact to her head and torso.
Smith, 20, was seated upright and appeared alert on Wednesday as he answered routine procedural questions. Defense attorney Craig Newman was at his side, but did not speak about the allegations.
Newman did not immediately respond to a phone message. Another court date was set for Friday.
Authorities say the killing occurred while Smith was looking after Jeida and her 5-year-old brother, Andrew, in an apartment managed by a homeless services nonprofit. Afterward, the brother gave detectives a detailed account of the assault, telling them the beating was prompted after the girl soiled her diaper, police said.
Smith forced Jeida to smell the dirty diaper, then kicked her, banged her head against a bed frame and choked her, the toddler's older brother said, according to police.
Police say the suspect fled and later tried to slit his wrists at his mother's Queens home. She called police Saturday to report that he might harm himself.
Camille Rivera, deputy commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, has said city officials are investigating the death. A spokesman for the homeless nonprofit, which has a contract with the city, declined to comment.
Smith has 15 prior arrests, including one for a 2010 robbery. He also was arrested three times while jailed on Rikers Island, charged last October with assault for shoving a correction officer into a door, splashing two correction officers with an unknown liquid in February and flooding a cell by damaging a sprinkler head.