Criminal charges have been filed in Pennsylvania against a 19-year-old woman and her 26-year-old boyfriend for allegedly fatally beating the woman’s 4-year-old son in a “violent, sustained” attack in late January, PEOPLE confirms.
Tahjir Smith died on Jan. 22 from multiple blunt injuries, thermal injuries and shock.
In a statement, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said a forensic pathologist had ruled the death a homicide — confirming investigators’ suspicions that it was the result of “a beating at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend and the mother, the very person entrusted to care for the boy.”
Citing a joint investigation by city and county authorities, Steele’s office said in a statement that Tahjir was allegedly beaten to death at his home “after he had spilled his breakfast cereal.” The boy was hit “repeatedly … about the head and torso,” prosecutors said.
Left unconscious after the assault, Tahjir was then placed under scalding hot water in an attempt to rouse him, according to authorities.
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Lisa Smith and Keiff King, both of Willow Grove, have been in police custody since January, when they were arrested on charges of attempted murder and other counts in Tahjir’s killing.
Both King and Smith have since also been charged with first-degree murder. They are expected to plead at a court hearing scheduled for April 18.
It was unclear Monday if either defendant had retained legal counsel who could comment in their behalf.