Zymere Perkins murder: Mother’s boyfriend sentenced in 2016 death of 6-year-old Harlem boy

Zymere Perkins

MANHATTAN — The man found guilty of beating 6-year-old Harlem boy Zymere Perkins to death in 2016 was sentenced to prison Monday.

Rysheim Smith was sentenced to 25 years to life on five counts, according to officials. All sentences will run concurrently.

Smith, who was dating Perkins’ mother at the time, used a broom handle and shower curtain rod to beat the young boy in September 2016. He then hung the brutally injured child on the back of the bathroom door of the Harlem apartment where he lived.

The medical examiner ruled Perkins’ death was caused by fatal child abuse syndrom due to both acute and chronic injuries.  

Smith was convicted of murder, manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child in January 2020 in connection to Perkins’ death. 

He was initially scheduled to be sentenced on March 18, 2020, but sentencing was rescheduled several times amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York City Administration for Children’s Services had opened five investigations on the family, based on calls from Perkins’ teachers and neighbors.

The boy suffered months of abuse by his mother and Smith, prosecutors said at the time of his death.

Beginning in June 2015, Smith repeatedly assaulted the young boy, according to court documents and court statements. Over the course of 15 months, Smith had frequently beaten the child, according to the district attorney. 

The child had gone to school with a broken jaw, busted teeth, and fractured ribs, according to officials.

Officers who responded to the incident found the apartment Perkins was living in did not have electricity, and there were large amounts of mold, rust and mildew, as well as cockroach and vermin infestations.

“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,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said following Smith’s conviction. 

Vance went on to thank the jury.

“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, and I’d like to thank the members of that jury for their careful attention during this heartbreaking case.”

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