Photos posted on MySpace by dad of 3-year-old Kyle Smithbeaten to death last week, show the adorable tot mugging for the camera in an oversize baseball cap and celebrating his second birthday.
BY MATTHEW LYSIAK, WIL CRUZ, ALISON GENDAR, SCOTT SHIFREL and TINA MOORE DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Tuesday, June 10th 2008, 4:00 AM
This is the angelic face of Kyle Smith before the Brooklyn 3-year-old was found beaten to death last week - an atrocious crime that left his dad "crushed."
Elliot Smith posted dozens of photos of his son's all-too-brief life on his MySpace page, where he wrote Monday that he was devastated by the murder.
"He is torn," Elliot Smith's mother, Norma Acosta, 45, said outside her Manhattan home. "He's in mourning right now. He's not doing very well at all, but he's hanging on."
One photo dated Aug. 12, 2006, shows Kyle smiling widely on his second birthday as he and his brother Darien, 6, ride gleefully in a toy car.
Another snapshot captures Kyle mugging for the camera in an oversize baseball cap.
They were bright moments in a life that would end in misery and isolation.
The boy's guardian, Nymeen Cheatham, 30, has admitted to beating Kyle with a hairbrush and her hands in the Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Lemar Martin, 25. Martin told cops he hit the boy repeatedly in the arm.
The couple stopped short of admitting to killing the boy.
Kyle had been staying with Cheatham and Martin since August 2007 because his drug addict mother was unable to take care of him. Cheatham did not have legal custody, and it was unclear why Smith did not claim his younger son. He could not be reached Monday.
Even though Cheatham applied for custody of Kyle, she wasn't much of a mom.
New York authorities apparently never knew that Cheatham's four biological children and younger brother were removed from her custody while she lived in Borger, Tex.
Officials in Texas received calls in July 2002 that Cheatham and her husband repeatedly locked the children in a bedroom and left them home alone for hours at a time. The children used a broken window to escape the filthy house with no running water and beg for food, Texas court records show.
It took more than an hour to coax the children, who ranged in age from 3 to 13, to open the door for social workers, court records show. One girl was hiding under a bed. Cheatham's children were placed with relatives in December 2003. It was unclear where Cheatham's 13-year-old brother was placed.
Four years later, in October 2007, Cheatham was trying to get legal custody of Kyle when the city's Administration for Children's Services interviewed her.
The social workers reported no signs of abuse or neglect, an official statement from the ACS said.
Several signs that could have tipped off authorities that something was wrong seemed to have fallen through the cracks.
Law enforcement sources said Cheatham told authorities she had four children in Texas, but no one ever followed up to find out what had happened to them.
Police sources told the Daily News that Acosta told the ACS she feared her grandson was being mistreated. A statement from the ACS, however, said the agency never received any complaints.
The custody case was closed in February without prejudice after Cheatham missed a court date, but nobody ever checked in on Kyle, law enforcement sources said. Cheatham never reopened the case.
Kyle's broken body was found on Friday. He had severe injuries to his mouth and bruises on his back, buttocks, legs and scrotum.
Cheatham and Martin were charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Murder charges were pending, prosecutors said. City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn) said he would be "asking more questions in the coming days to identify where we failed Kyle Smith."
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Dad 'crushed' over death of little Kyle
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