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Child abuse charge in toddler's death could be upgraded to homicide

Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 4:01 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 1:54 AM
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A Hephzibah woman facing a child abuse charge in the recent death of her 2-year-old son might face indictment on a more serious charge.

Charges of cruelty to children in the second degree may be brought in a case against Mary Katherine Smith as early as next week.
Charges of cruelty to children in the second degree may be brought in a case against Mary Katherine Smith as early as next week.

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Richmond County Civil Court, Chief Judge William D. Jennings III ruled that probable cause existed to bind over Mary Katherine Smith on a charge of cruelty to children in the second degree.

Assistant District Attorney Shawn Merzlak, however, told the judge that his boss is working with the lead investigator to take a homicide case against Smith, 39, to the grand jury as early as next week.

Jennings denied a request to release Smith on bond but said he would reconsider that decision if Smith isn’t indicted quickly.

Smith has been held in custody since July 31, a day after her son, Jason Tucker Smith, arrived at the hospital with injuries that the physicians believe is inconsistent with Smith’s account of what happened.

The child was on life support until his Aug. 3 death.

Investigator Walter Garrison testified Tuesday that a preliminary autopsy report indicates the toddler had bruising on his left temple, massive hemorrhaging on the left side of his brain and behind both eyes, a baseball-size knot on the back of his head and nine old rib fractures. The bruising to the left side of the child’s face was shaped like a palm print, Garrison testified.

The preliminary cause of death was blunt impact head trauma and the manner is homicide, it was reported.

Smith; her boyfriend, Jeremy Kitchens; and family members said the toddler was diagnosed with a breath-holding syndrome shortly after birth, Garrison testified. The boy would hold his breath until he passed out.

The boy was sent to timeout on July 30, and Smith and Kitchens described hearing a thud and finding him unresponsive on the floor. Kitchens said Smith smacked the boy in the face and shook him in an attempt to revive him, Garrison testified.

The boy experienced a similar event in 2013. Smith rushed him to the hospital, where he was released without treatment, Garrison told defense attorney Hank Crane.

On July 30, Smith, a licensed practical nurse, tested the child’s oxygen level and called 911 when it dropped to a dangerous level about three hours later, Garrison testified.

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Farmboy
954
Points
Farmboy 08/12/14 - 05:04 pm
3
1
As sad as this is...

Look at it this way: The boy has been delievered out of what could have been nothing but a life of misery. Don't feel sad for the baby. He is in a better place where he is being well taken care of. Now on the other hand there is the mother; I have nothing to say about that..

nocnoc
43454
Points
nocnoc 08/12/14 - 05:16 pm
2
0
I still feel it is too early for a public E-lynching

So I'll wait until I hear more details and less pre-positioning rhetoric for plea bargaining, or the lawyer/DA attempts to sway the public for a trial.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 08/12/14 - 06:55 pm
3
0
Southside Syndrome
Unpublished

The good folks for the most part have left... trash like this is what is left.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 08/12/14 - 08:19 pm
1
0
Meth
Unpublished

In court today, the defendant revealed that she would not have passed a drug test for methamphetamines. Perhaps this explains the delay in getting the child to the hospital

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 08/12/14 - 11:27 pm
1
0
39 years old???
Unpublished

I just reread the article and noticed the defendant is 39 years old! She looks to be 59 in this photo! That meth is one helluva drug.

Young Fred
17614
Points
Young Fred 08/13/14 - 01:23 am
1
0
Farmboy

Shows huge restraint

I hate to judge a book by its cover, so
I won't.

iaaffg
2480
Points
iaaffg 08/13/14 - 05:07 am
2
0
no need to judge a book by

no need to judge a book by its cover; in this case, the book can be judged by her deeds, or lack thereof. no matter what the legal eagles decide with what to charge her, one of the first stops for this individual should be the sterilization shop. please don't let her have any more bebbies.

Farmboy
954
Points
Farmboy 08/13/14 - 11:43 am
0
0
Young Fred - I stand corrected..

You are right. I don't know really what is going on. It's a sad sitaution for everyone involved.

Marinerman1
4947
Points
Marinerman1 08/13/14 - 01:27 pm
0
0
Time For the Telling

You are right, the innocent child is free from the abuse he endured. Now what to do with the sperm receptacle. I guess she qualifies as a mom, by technical definition only. Could it be that drug abuse, caused the child's affliction ? The article states "nine old rib fractures". I read somewhere that the sperm donor was already in jail. May he rot there. Let's see if the DA can actually get a murder conviction, WITH NO PLEA BARGAINING, Ashley.

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