Police say the 5-year-old brother of a 3-year-old girl allegedly beaten to death by her stepfather at a Brooklyn homeless shelter gave detectives a detailed account of the assault, telling them the suspect banged his sister's head against a bed frame, then choked her after she soiled her diaper.
The little boy was found injured near his bruised and unconscious sister, Jeida Torres, Saturday in a shelter on Cooper Street in Bushwick, police said. Torres was pronounced dead at a hospital.
On Monday, the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, saying blunt impact injuries to her head and torso killed her.
Torres' brother was hospitalized in stable condition. Neighbor Keith Best told the Daily News and New York Post that the boy had big bruises on his face and arms.
The boy told investigators their stepfather, 20-year-old Kelsey Smith, who was watching the children while their mother was at work, made Torres smell her own dirty diaper, then told her to eat the excrement inside it, a law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York.
When the girl refused, Smith allegedly told her brother to eat it, the source said. He refused, and Smith allegedly attacked both children.
Smith was arrested Sunday and charged with with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child, the NYPD said. After the autopsy results were released Monday, prosecutors said he would be charged with second-degree murder as well.
He remained hospitalized Monday after cutting his wrists in an apparent suicide attempt, police said. It's not clear if he has an attorney.
Smith, who police said was married to the children's 24-year-old mother, had lived with the family for three months. He has 15 prior arrests, including a 2010 arrest for robbery in which police say he slammed a 14-year-old boy into an iron gate, kicked him on the ground, then put his knee on the boy's throat before stealing his wallet with $10 in it, records show. Smith was 15 at the time of that arrest.
He has also been 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 damaging a sprinkler head, causing his cell to flood last November, according to records.
Mark Almodovar, who said he is Smith's uncle, said he believed his nephew had hurt the girl, but said Smith is "not a monster." Almodovar said Smith tried to give Torres chest compressions.
Mayor de Blasio said the administration was conducting a thorough internal investigation.
Camille Rivera, deputy commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, said the agency was helping investigators.
"The death of a child is a tragic incident which we are taking extremely seriously. We are working with the NYPD to determine how this occurred," she said in a statement.
Housing Bridge, a homeless services nonprofit, has a contract with the city to run the facility where the beating occurred, said Harry Fried, the group's chief operating officer. He said he wasn't permitted to comment further.