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Indictment: Woman murdered adopted son. Warrants allege she taped boy’s mouth, beat him with yardstick.
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Indictment: Woman murdered adopted son. Warrants allege she taped boy’s mouth, beat him with yardstick.

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A Rural Hall woman was indicted Monday on a charge that she murdered her adopted 5-year-old son, leaving him with bruises all over his body. According to search warrants, she told police that she had taped the child’s mouth to keep him from screaming and had beaten him with a yardstick and a charger cord.

Kimberly Monique Smith, 37, of the 2300 block of Whisperwood Street, was indicted for first-degree murder in the June 6 death of 5-year-old Kendall Marquise Smith. She is also facing a charge of felony intentional child abuse, inflicting serious bodily injury in connection to Kendall’s 6-year-old brother, according to court records. Kimberly Smith has not been indicted for that charge. She is in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond on the murder charge.

Winston-Salem police officers went to Kimberly Smith’s home at 9:49 p.m. on June 6, along with emergency-medical technicians, after getting a 911 call about an unresponsive child.

Officers found Gwendolyn Moultrie Rice, Smith’s friend, performing CPR on Kendall in a bedroom. Kendall was taken to Brenner Children’s Hospital. Kendall was pronounced dead at 10:53 p.m. that same night, search warrants said.

Officer J.M. Shupe went to the hospital and saw that Kendall had extensive bruising on his body. Kendall also had an abrasion on the tip of his penis and a laceration on his scrotum, the search warrants said.

Dr. William Harrison, a pathologist at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, performed an autopsy and concluded that Kendall died from blunt-force trauma to the back of his head, which caused his brain to swell and led to a lack of oxygen, according to the search warrant. Harrison also found cuts, bruises and other marks that were left by some kind of object, the search warrants said. A belt buckle mark on Kendall’s body appeared to match a belt that investigators had seized from Kimberly Smith’s house, search warrants said.

“Detectives also compared the masking tape found at the scene and determined it had been used to tape Kendall’s mouth shut by wrapping it twice around his head and neck,” the search warrants said.

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According to the search warrants, Kimberly Smith gave several different explanations on how Kendall was injured.

She initially told investigators that she had been playing with Kendall in the upstairs hallway, holding Kendall under his arms and lifting him in the air about six to seven feet, according to the search warrants. She said she tripped over his brother, falling to the floor and dropping Kendall on his head. She told investigators that Kendall cried and then went limp.

But the brother told Deann Brodie, a social worker with the Forsyth County Department of Social Services, that he had not bumped into his mother and Kendall hadn’t fallen, the search warrants said. He also didn’t mention anything about Kendall playing with Kimberly Smith and told Brodie that his mother spanked him and Kendall with a wooden yardstick the night before for drinking out of a sippy cup belonging to Rice’s son. The brother told Brodie that his mother had struck Kendall with a belt and a phone charger and had flicked his and Kendall’s genitalia for wetting the bed, according to search warrants.

When investigators spoke to Kimberly Smith again, she denied causing her son’s injuries and said that Kendall was clumsy. She also accused the brother of lying, the search warrant said.

Brodie told police on June 8, the same day that the autopsy on Kendall was conducted, that Kimberly Smith reached out to her and said she had not been honest about what happened to her son, according to the search warrants. Smith said Kendall had fallen after running “suicides” drills in the bedroom. “Suicide drills” are when people run multiple times at high speeds to a certain distance and back again.

Kimberly Smith said Kendall had collapsed. But Harrison told detectives that it was not likely that Kendall received these injuries from doing those drills and then falling, search warrants said. That night, Smith was charged with child abuse in connection to the 6-year-old and was interviewed a third time by detectives.

Search warrants said it was this third time when she admitted that she had taped Kendall’s mouth shut to keep him from screaming and that she had hit him with a yardstick and charger cord. She told detectives that Kendall was running “suicide drills” as punishment for drinking after 5 p.m. “when he fell back on his head and started losing consciousness. She said she put Kendall in the bathtub and ran water over him to try to wake him up while also performing what are called sternum rubs. She did this for 30 minutes before she called Rice over, and Rice called 911.

One of the search warrants alleged that Smith had searched online for funeral homes or locations that perform cremations.

At the end of the interview, Smith was charged with murder. As she was being led out of the interviewing room, Smith said, “I didn’t mean to kill my son. It was an accident.”

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@mhewlettWSJ

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