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Man Charged following Beating Death Of 3-Year-Old Jeida Torres In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A man is facing charges after a 3-year-old girl was beaten to death and her 5-year-old brother was hospitalized in Brooklyn.

Jeida Torres was discovered unconscious, unresponsive and badly bruised Saturday afternoon in Bushwick, CBS 2's Ilana Gold reported.

The family lives at a city shelter on Cooper Street, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

Fire officials said Jeida was rushed to a hospital in cardiac arrest, but later died.

Her brother, Andrew Torres, is in stable condition at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.

On Sunday, 20-year-old Kelsey Smith was charged with felony assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old, police said.

The alleged crimes happened while Smith was watching Jeida and Andrew in their second-floor apartment while their mother was at work, CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

Man Charged following Beating Death Of 3-Year-Old Jeida Torres In Brooklyn

Neighbor Keith Best told the New York Daily News and New York Post that the boy had big bruises on his face and arms. He said the children's mother and grandfather sobbed when they arrived home and found out what had happened.

"The family seemed decent, happy, not sad or anything like that," a man who lives on the same floor with the family told Schuck.

Giovanni Rodriguez, who lives in the building, said he heard terrible turmoil coming from the apartment in recent weeks.

"I used to hear people arguing -- lady and man arguing, and I used to hear the baby crying," he said.

Police Question Man In Beating Death Of 3-Year-Old Jeida Torres In Brooklyn

Sources told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern that Smith had beaten Jeida after she had soiled her clothing. But according to a man who said he was Smith's uncle, Jeida's death was an accident.

Mark Almodovar told Stern that Smith was only trying to discipline the girl.

"He back slapped her with the back of his hand, caught her in the ribs. She got lungs collapsed -- one of her lungs collapsed," Almodovar said.

Almodovar said his nephew then accidentally crushed the girl's chest trying to perform CPR. Almodovar's claims, though, don't explain the injuries to Jeida's brother who remains hospitalized, Stern reported.

"Sometimes kids don't listen to their parents and you have to discipline them. But the way he disciplined them he was very wrong," Almodovar added.

Smith allegedly fled the scene to a relative's home where, according to police sources, he slashed his own wrists, CBS 2's Steve Langford reported.

He was treated for his injuries at Elmhurst Hospital, 1010 WINS reported.

Brooklyn Borough President Calls For DHS Probe Into Toddler's Death

As the criminal investigation continues, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has called for the Department of Homeless Services to launch its own probe into what happened.

Adams said he was assured by the DHS commissioner that there will be a thorough investigation into whether something could have been done to prevent Jeida's death.

"A person doesn't start taking the life of a child overnight, it is something that is built up to. Did we have this abuser among us and it was ignored?" he said.

Adams said he wants the rules changed so that shelter workers would be required to report suspected child abuse the same way physicians and police officers have to.

"If it is determined that this young child and her brother had old injuries, physical injuries then it means as though we are creating safe havens for abusers," Adams said.

Brooklyn Borough President Calls For DHS Probe Into Toddler's Death

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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