Man beats daughter to death over Xbox
This was Tyrone Spellman's explanation to police: He "snapped" after he thought his daughter had broken a $600 Xbox game console.
Alayiah Turman was only 17 months old, born March 29, 2005. Spellman beat her to death, prosecutors say.
In an alleged confession read at his preliminary hearing yesterday, Spellman, 25, said he was playing one of Tom Clancy's "Ghost Recon" games - a violent combat epic - in a front bedroom of his family's Brewerytown home that Thursday morning, Sept. 7. He had taken Alayiah into the room so her mother, Mia Turman, could rest.
"She pulled the cord and the whole game console fell over," Spellman said in his statement, read by Homicide Detective John Cummings. "I thought it was broken. I popped her in the face. I picked her up and tossed her in a chair."
Later that day - at 12:37 p.m. - Alayiah was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital.
Spellman, also known as Anwar Salahuddin, was held for trial by order of Municipal Court Judge Gerard A. Kosinski on charges of murder, endangering the welfare of a child, and related offenses.
Alayiah's slaying was one of several child deaths examined by The Inquirer in an October article on the city Department of Human Services and its oversight of child-abuse and neglect cases.
DHS visited Spellman's rowhouse on the 1500 block of North 29th Street twice in August - each time seeing only the baby's mother, Mia Turman, 21, and Alayiah, inside. Turman told the agency that no one else lived there.
In September, Cheryl Ransom-Garner, then DHS commissioner, told The Inquirer that a social worker had reported the child looked happy and had no bruises. But Turman's mother, Marvine Turman, told The Inquirer that she had seen bruises on the child.
Yesterday's hearing focused on the injuries Alayiah suffered on the day she died.
In his statement, Spellman said that after he tossed his daughter in a chair, he put her on a bed. He then went to tell Turman, who was eight months pregnant and sleeping in a different bedroom, that he was going to a store to get "something to smoke and something to eat."
When he returned, Spellman said, Keith Walker - identified after the hearing by Spellman's supporters as a tenant in the house - told him that Alayiah "fell and had blood on her nose."
Spellman called 911 while Walker tried to resuscitate her.
Mia Turman testified yesterday, her voice at times nervous, as Spellman stared at her. Turman and Alayiah had moved into Spellman's house about a month before the child's death.
Turman testified that Spellman woke her about noon Sept. 7 and that, when she saw Alayiah, the baby's nose was bleeding, "the side of her face was bruised," and "she wasn't breathing."
Under cross-examination by Spellman's lawyer, Bobby Hoof, Turman agreed that Spellman had told her Alayiah had fallen off a bed and had been found lying on a barbell.
Edwin Lieberman, the city assistant medical examiner who performed Alayiah's autopsy, testified that in addition to bruises around her head, Alayiah suffered "tremendous injury" inside her head "caused by at minimum three separate blows" to the right side, top and back of her skull.
Alayiah's skull was fractured to the point that a piece of bone had fallen out, he said.
When asked by Assistant District Attorney Yvonne Ruiz what could have caused Alayiah's internal head injuries, Lieberman testified that a fist could have caused them or her head could have struck a smooth surface, such as a tabletop, wall or floor.
Under cross-examination, Lieberman dismissed Hoof's suggestions. "A simple fall as you are suggesting from a bed would not cause a skull fracture," he said. Nor, he said, would falling on a weight.
After the hearing, Turman, surrounded by relatives, let off her anger toward Spellman, who she said showed no remorse.
"My baby don't deserve that," she said.
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