The little boy's mother will also serve time for manslaughter in his horrific death

By Chris Harris
January 16, 2020 12:29 PM
Zymere Perkins
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A lifetime behind bars is a possibility now for a 49-year-old New York City man, who this week was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2016 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend’s 6-year-old son.

PEOPLE confirms jurors returned a guilty verdict Wednesday against Rysheim Smith, finding him responsible for the brutal killing of Zymere Perkins on Sept. 26, 2016. At trial, prosecutors argued that Smith beat the child with a splintered broomstick after forcing him into the shower, essentially waterboarding the boy with freezing water.

Smith also beat the boy with the bathroom’s shower rod, prosecutors said.

Zymere, prosecutors maintained, was also hanged from a hook by Smith — punishment for defecating in the living room of the family’s Harlem apartment. Afterwards, Smith went out for breakfast.

During the trial, a medical expert testified that Zymere suffered at least 30 rib fractures — injuries consistent with repeated blows to the chest.

Jurors took two days to deliberate.

Smith will be sentenced on March 27.

According to prosecutors, Zymere’s mother, 29-year-old Geraldine Perkins, stood by and watched the abuse unfold, making no attempt to stop it at any point. Before bringing him to the hospital, she told investigators she read the Bible, fixed her makeup and put on a wig.

Ryshiem Smith
ABC 7

Perkins testified against Smith as part of a plea deal that will see her serve two to six years for manslaughter.

“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 DA Cy Vance said in a statement.

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“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,” Vance continued. “Now, a Manhattan jury has rightly held the defendant accountable for this horrific murder.”

In addition to murder, Smith was convicted on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and individual counts of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

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