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Medical Examiner Rules Brooklyn Toddler's Death A Homicide

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The New York City Medical Examiner's office has ruled the death of a 3-year-old Brooklyn girl allegedly beaten by her stepfather as a homicide.

The medical examiner's office said blunt impact injuries to the head and torso were to blame for Jeida Torres' death over the weekend.

On Monday, police said Jeida's 5-year-old brother gave detectives a detailed account of the assault.

Medical Examiner Rules Brooklyn Toddler's Death A Homicide

Police said that by the boy's account, Kelsey Smith kicked Jeida, banged her head against a bed frame, and then choked her.

They said the boy told investigators Saturday's beating at a Brooklyn homeless shelter was prompted after the child soiled her diaper, which he made her smell.

Smith has been charged with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said on Monday night that Smith will face upgraded charges of second-degree murder, among other charges.

Police: Suspect In Brooklyn Girl's Beating Death Had Prior Arrests

Smith was taken into custody Saturday after police responded to the Brooklyn homeless shelter apartment where Jeida was found unconscious and unresponsive.

Police said Smith was watching the girl and her brother while their mother was at work. They said the boy had bruises on his body and was hospitalized in stable condition.

Smith's relative, Mark Almodovar, said it began with Smith calling his own father, admitting he hit Jeida after she had gone to the bathroom in her underwear.

"He said, 'She's on the floor, she's not moving.' So he tried to give her chest compressions, and I think he probably made her stop breathing," Almodovar said. "He got scared, and he left the house."

Police found Smith at a relative's Queens apartment, where he allegedly tried to slit his wrists. He remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition.

Medical Examiner Rules Brooklyn Toddler's Death A Homicide

Neighbors said they often heard adults screaming from Smith's apartment at the shelter and babies crying, but they were shocked to hear what happened.

"It's something unimaginable," said neighbor Sanchez-Giovanni Rodriguez. "You would never imagine something like that happening where you live."

The Department of Homeless Services told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman it is working with other agencies to figure out how the killing happened at one of its facilities.

Police said Smith had 15 prior arrests, including one for assault.

Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement regarding Jeida's death, saying his administration will conduct a full investigation.

"We are all deeply saddened by the senseless death of an innocent child, and we are all responsible for our children's safety.  We must find out what went wrong, and what we could have been done differently to avoid this terrible outcome.

"My Administration, starting with the Department of Homeless Services, is conducting a thorough internal investigation of the City's multi-agency procedures, with an intensified review of domestic violence and child safety in shelters. New Yorkers can be assured that their Administration will be working tirelessly to understand what happened -- and how to ensure something like this never happens again."

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