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Harrowing Details Emerge in Beating of 18-Month-Old



6:41 p.m. | Updated Harrowing details in the beating of an 18-month-old Brooklyn foster child emerged in court on Monday, during the arraignment of the man charged in the case, Kysheen Oliver, 19, the boyfriend of the child’s foster mother.

In court papers, prosecutors cited a doctor at the hospital where the boy, Kymell Oram, was taken as telling the police that he was “likely to die.” But it was not clear when that assessment was made, or whether his condition had since improved. On Monday, a spokeswoman for the hospital, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, said only that Kymell was in critical condition.

During the arraignment, in Brooklyn Criminal Court, an assistant district attorney, Wilfredo Cotto, told the courtroom that the doctor had described Kymell as suffering “repeated serious blows from an adult, possibly with a metal rod or a bat.”

Twice, he said, the baby needed to be resuscitated because his heart had stopped beating.

Speaking after the arraignment, Mr. Cotto said, “This is a really bad case,” and adding, “this is awful, just awful.”

Mr. Oliver is being charged with assault, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, menacing and harassment.

Deputy Inspector Kim Royster said the police had not ruled out charges against the boy’s foster mother, Teyunna Cummings, 32, and were still speaking with her. The investigation is continuing, she said, including into whether there were other instances of abuse.

In child abuse cases, boyfriends or significant others can pose nettlesome challenges for investigators. They are not necessarily a constant presence, making them hard to monitor, and it can be difficult to pinpoint their precise role in the household.

Tamara Steckler, the attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society’s juvenile rights practice, which represents Kymell in Family Court, said there were no records to indicate that Mr. Oliver actually lived with the boy and his foster mother. “I don’t think anyone has said he was living in the household,” she said.

Every adult over 18 living in a foster home has to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check and be checked in the State Central Registry.

In court on Monday, Mr. Cotto said that when Ms. Cummings returned home Thursday morning after taking her daughter and another foster child to school, Mr. Oliver used a racial slur and an obscenity to inform Ms. Cummings that the “dumb” baby had defecated in her bed. When Ms. Cummings checked on the baby, he was lying face down, Mr. Cotto said, and when she went to check on him a second time he was lying in his own vomit, breathing heavily.

At that point, Mr. Cotto said, Ms. Cummings told Mr. Oliver to call 911 while she gave the baby asthma medication. He refused, telling her to wait 20 minutes to see if the medicine worked. She then called 911, and Kymell was taken to Brookdale Hospital.

Mr. Cotto said the doctor who treated Kymell at the hospital told investigators that the baby’s injuries included a lacerated liver and a torn spleen. The blood from the wounds filled the baby’s body cavity, creating pressure on the lungs and making it difficult for him to breathe, Mr. Cotto reported.

According to court papers, Mr. Oliver acknowledged striking Kymell twice.

Mr. Oliver’s defense lawyer, Michael Higgins, appealed for bail but acknowledged, “I realize it’s going to be hard to get.” He also requested protective custody for Mr. Oliver.

Judge Joanne Quinones ordered Mr. Oliver held without bail.

After the judge remanded him, Mr. Oliver looked briefly over his shoulder at two women, who then left the courtroom in tears, declining to speak with or identify themselves to reporters.

The foster care agency in charge of Kymell’s case, Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, referred calls to Michael J. Fagan, a spokesman for the Administration for Children’s Services.

Asked whether the beating was the result of ongoing abuse, and whether foster care workers could have missed earlier signs, Mr. Fagan said, “We do not have reports of abuse and neglect.”

Ms. Cummings’ 9-year-old foster child and 10- or 11-year-old biological child have both been removed from her home, said Ms. Steckler, of the Legal Aid Society.

A longtime friend of Ms. Cummings, Mike Bee, has said that Kymell was born with a heroin addiction, and that Ms. Cummings had “nursed him back to life.” She had been in the process of finalizing the boy’s adoption, Mr. Bee said.

2011 Mar 21