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Stepfather charged in 3-year-old’s death remains in hospital

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BUSHWICK, Brooklyn (PIX11) -- He's accused of beating his 3-year-old stepdaughter to death and severely beating her 5-year-old brother.  On Wednesday, Kelsey Smith spoke publicly for the first time.

He did not have much to say, since he was at a first court appearance, tersely answering procedural questions, but the circumstances surrounding that appearance offer significant insight into Smith's mental state now.

Kelsey Smith, who also goes by the name Shawn, made his first court appearance via video conference.  The reason was that he was at Bellevue Hospital, where he's been on suicide watch since the beginning of the week after allegedly trying to slit his wrists last weekend.

That followed the death of his stepdaughter, Jeida Torres.  According to prosecutors and the medical examiner, Smith beat the girl so badly Saturday afternoon that she died from her blunt force trauma wounds.

The girl had reportedly soiled her pants that afternoon, which set Smith off into a fit of rage.  He may have beaten her brother, Andrew, when the boy who's known for trying to keep his sister safe stepped in to try and protect her.

Smith gave only simple, yes or no answers to the judge at the Wednesday afternoon hearing.  It was carried out with Smith sitting next to his attorney in front of a video conference camera at Bellevue.  The judge had a reciprocal camera and video monitor facing his bench, through which the entire seven minute procedure took place.

He faced charges of murder, assault, manslaughter and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

On Saturday, just before 4:00 P.M., officers responded to a 911 call reporting screaming from the apartment where Smith lived with the children and their mother in a facility for homeless families.

When they arrived, they found the girl in cardiac arrest as a result of the severe beating she'd suffered.  Her brother, Andrew, was beaten so badly that doctors first listed him in critical condition.

On Wednesday in court, the judge mentioned Andrew specifically.  "While this case is going on," he said, "you cannot have any contact with Andrew Torres."

"Do you understand that?" The judge asked.

"Yes," Smith replied, through the camera.

"Do you have any questions?" Asked the judge.

"No," said Smith.

With that, an order of protection for the little boy was finalized.  Even though there's no chance of Smith getting out of custody anytime soon, a relative of the children told PIX11 News that his nephew, Andrew, can use all the help he can get.

The children's uncle -- the brother of their biological father -- was at their home at 38 Cooper Street Wednesday, having arrived recently from Indiana.  When PIX11 News encountered him, he was lighting a candle at the makeshift memorial in front of the children's building.  At one point, he sobbed uncontrollably.

He declined to give his name, or speak on the record, but he knew details related to the case that only someone very close to it would know.  He said that he could not understand how the girl's mother, Kimberly Torres, ended up with Smith, who had a history of more than a dozen arrests, including for assault.

Now, he has far more serious additions to his rap sheet.  He was given no bail, and was ordered to stay in police custody at Bellevue until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Friday.

Meanwhile, his five year-old stepson remains in the hospital, as his condition improves.  The boy reportedly provided investigators with information about the alleged attacks, which led to the charges against Smith.  For now, according to the boy's uncle, little Andrew has still not been told that the abuse he and his sister endured left her dead.