Kokomo man faces possible life sentence in murder of 8-week-old boy

KOKOMO, Ind.– A Kokomo man is facing charges in connection with the death of a 8-week-old child.

Jaquail Iman Smith, 22, was charged Wednesday with murder, aggravated battery and voluntary manslaughter. The prosecutor is requesting a life sentence without parole.

On Nov. 8 at 8:30 p.m., Kokomo police were called to the Howard Regional Hospital in reference to a child with serious head injuries. Medical staff from the hospital notified the Department of Child Services (DCS), who then informed Kokomo police.

The responding officer arrived as staff were preparing to transport the victim to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health via helicopter. The officer was able to see marks on the boy’s face, legs and torso as well as a large hematoma on the back of his head.

Medical staff said the child suffered multiple skull fractures as well as fractures to other bones in various states of healing, according to court documents.

The mother was at the hospital and agreed to be interviewed by police. She said the child was with her boyfriend, Smith, when the injuries occurred. He is not the biological father.

The mother says she took a friend to run some errands around 5:20 p.m. and left the child with Smith. When she left, she said Smith was playing video games and the baby was sleeping. She came home around 7 p.m. and found the child was still in bed and Smith was in the room with him.

He told her the baby stopped breathing but he got him to start again and he was okay. She noticed the child’s head was swollen, and smith claimed to not know about it.

She and Smith then took the infant to the hospital.

When officers interviewed Smith, court documents show he said he’d been playing games for about an hour when he went to check on the child; he wasn’t breathing.

Smith told officers he shook the baby, while he was still on his back, but got no response. He then pinched in between the infant’s fingers, but again got no response. He said when he pinched the infant’s cheek, he responded and started breathing again. He said he changed the diaper and then went back to playing video games before the mother got home about 20 minutes later.

Officers asked him how the baby got such severe injuries while nobody else was in the apartment, and Smith told them he didn’t know. He denied doing anything like smacking, punching, dropping or hitting the infant.

Court documents show he said the injuries appeared while he was watching the baby alone, but didn’t cause them. When police told him that didn’t make sense, he said he knew that.

When asked if he lost his cool due to the baby crying, he said, “No, (the baby) wasn’t crying and was asleep.”

Police searched their apartment and didn’t find anything abnormal, other than the smell of burnt marijuana, until Smith was asked about the diaper he said he changed.

Smith said when he came back to the apartment, he took out the trash. When the officer searched the dumpster, more than 30 bags of trash, and said there was no way of determining which one Smith had put in there, if any.

On Nov. 9, the infant passed away. Witnesses and family members said Smith had been apologizing to the baby as he died.

The mother and Smith were interviewed again, and Smith wasn’t able to explain the injuries the child received while in his care. When asked why he was apologizing to the infant as he died, court documents show he said he was “supposed to protect (the baby) and he didn’t.”

Smith tested positive for THC, amphetamine and methamphetamine.

The Marion County Coroner concluded the child died from blunt force trauma to the head. A warrant for Smith was released, and he was arrested Wednesday around 3 p.m.

His bond was set at $500,000, and the option was removed to pay 10 percent of the bond in cash.

Smith could face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.