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No contest plea entered in toddler beating death


South LA woman faces 25 years to life

A South Los Angeles woman has pleaded no contest to first-degree murder for her 4-year-old daughter’s beating death.

Akira Keyshell Smith, now 37, is facing 25 years to life in state prison in connection with the Aug. 11, 2020, death of her daughter, Eternity.

She is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for sentencing Nov. 28 before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard S. Kemalyan.

Two other counts against Smith–torture and assault on a child causing death–and allegations that she had prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon in 2016 and injuring a spouse, cohabitant, fiance or boyfriend in 2014 are expected to be dismissed as a result of her plea.

At a May 2022 hearing, the girl’s then-18-year-old brother testified that his mother kept “slapping and slapping” Eternity that day, and that he also saw his mother choking his sister and “kicking her while she was on the floor.”

The young man–who said he told his mother to stop–told a judge that his mother eventually went to her room while he checked on his sister, who was on the floor in the hallway. He said he subsequently told his mother that the girl’s stomach was moving in a weird way.

“My mom told me to get her some food. She didn’t want any of it,” the girl’s oldest brother testified, adding later that his mother also told him to get some water for her.

“We called the ambulance to come and hurry up,” he said. Another of the girl’s brothers, who was 10 years old at the time of last year’s hearing, said he didn’t remember so well what happened to his sister.

“What did you see your mom do? Was there hitting?,”  Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami asked.

“Definitely hitting,” the younger boy testified, adding that he believed that there was also kicking and slapping as his sister cried.

When asked why he didn’t try to stop his mother, the boy responded, “What if I was next?”

The boy testified that the girl was “just laying there, not crying any more” and “wasn’t moving at all” after his mother stopped the alleged attack.

He acknowledged that he would sometimes play-fight with the girl, and that she had fallen at one point from a bunk bed probably about a month earlier.

Defense attorney Kimberly Greene asked the boy if his mother would sometimes seem sad and whether he ever saw his mother taking medication. He responded that she sometimes seemed sad and that she had pills.

Matthew Holguin, a firefighter/paramedic with the Los Angeles City Fire Department, testified earlier this month at the hearing that the girl was pale, cold and wet when he responded to the home about 5:12 p.m. that day, and that family members said they had poured water on the girl in an effort to wake her up.

“It just seemed very calm in the house,” Holguin told the judge, noting that it was unusual under the circumstances.

Holguin said firefighters were informed by the mother that the girl was last seen walking in the hallway when she just collapsed. Paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive the girl, who was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead at 5:41 p.m. that night, Holguin testified.

When asked if he heard Smith saying, “Oh, God,” and repeating her daughter’s name, he said he wouldn’t describe her demeanor as emotional.