North Carolina prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against a mother accused of brutally murdering her adopted 5-year-old son last year.
Appearing Friday in Forsyth County Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney Belinda Foster said the state wants to take legal action against Kimberly Monique Smith due to the “particularly heinous” nature of his alleged crimes, the Winston-Salem Diary reported.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, a grand jury in October 2021 indicted Smith with crimes, including first-degree murder, in the June 2021 death of his adopted son, Kendall Marquise Smith. Smith was also charged with intentional child abuse causing grievous bodily harm, also a felony, for allegedly abusing her 6-year-old son, Kendall’s older brother.
According to Winston-Salem Diary report, ADA Foster told Forsyth Superior Court Judge Andrew Hanford that the allegations against Smith are “particularly heinous, atrocious, or cruel,” one of 11 aggravating factors required for prosecutors to seek the death penalty under North Carolina law.
Judge Hanford reportedly granted ADA Foster’s request and formally ordered the case against Smith to be capital. Pursuant to state law regarding capital cases, Judge Hanford also ordered that Smith be assigned a second court-appointed attorney. She is currently represented by the Forsyth County Public Defender Paul James.
James did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime seeking comment on the state’s decision to seek the death penalty against his client.
Winston-Salem Police Department officers and emergency medical services personnel around 9:53 a.m. June 6 responded to a 911 call about an unresponsive child at a residence on Whisperwood Street in Rural Hall, authorities said in a news release. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found one of Smith’s friends performing CPR on an unresponsive Kendall and took over rescue procedures. EMS doctors transported Kendall to Brenner Children’s Hospital where doctors attempted to resuscitate the child, but succumbed to his injuries shortly after arriving and were pronounced dead around that evening.
An affidavit of probable cause obtained by the Winston-Salem Diary reportedly said an officer who accompanied Kendall to the hospital observed that the boy had suffered “many bruises all over his body” and also “had an abrasion on the tip of his penis and a laceration on his scrotum”.
When asked about Kendall’s injuries, Kimberly’s stories of what happened reportedly changed several times. According to the affidavit, she first told investigators she was holding Kendall when she tripped over her other child and dropped him on his head. Two days later, she reportedly claimed she had no role in Kendall’s injuries, telling police her son was just “clumsy” and fell while running.
But Kendall’s brother reportedly told a social worker he saw his mother hitting Kendall, first with a wooden stick, then with the cord of a phone charger and finally with a belt. The brother also allegedly said that his mother “often patted Kendall’s and him’s genitals” as punishment for wetting his bed.
A subsequent autopsy by a pathologist reportedly determined Kendall’s death to be a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the back of the head. The blow reportedly caused the boy’s brain to swell, depriving him of oxygen. The pathologist also reportedly found unique bruises on Kendall’s body that police said matched a belt buckle recovered from inside Kimberly Smith’s home.
Investigators analyzed masking tape recovered from the scene and determined that the tape had been placed over the child’s mouth and wrapped around his head and neck twice to keep his mouth closed, according to the affidavit. .
Faced with further evidence, Smith reportedly admitted that she “taped Kendall’s mouth to keep him from screaming and hit him with a tape measure and a charger cord,” according to the affidavit. She also allegedly said she made the boy do “suicide drills” in his room as punishment for drinking after 5 p.m. She said she put him in the bath for about 30 minutes and tried to wake him up before calling her friend. The friend reportedly called 911.
Lt. Gregory Dorn of the Winston-Salem Police Department told Florence CBS affiliate WBTW-TV that Kimberly had been the children’s legal guardian for about two years and described the investigation as “the worst case of abuse he has ever had.” seen in 16 years”.
Smith, who had been the children’s legal guardian for about two years prior to Kendall’s death, is currently being held in Forsyth County Jail without bond.
The Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office and the clerk of the court did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime requesting additional information about the case.[image via Winston-Salem Police]
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