A 20-year-old Reading woman, now eight months pregnant, has been charged with murder in the death of her nearly one-year-old son.
Mayra Lee Smith, of the 100 block of Douglass Street, admitted to police she forcefully grabbed Jeramyah Rivera from the floor and squeezed him in the abdomen because she was frustrated with his crying.
The baby died only a few weeks before his first birthday, and his death was ruled a homicide.
"They found evidence of child abuse and then the matter became a criminal investigation," said Jonathan Kurland, chief deputy district attorney.
Smith did not utter a word when she walked into court Tuesday, at which time a judge set her bail at $750,000.
First responders were dispatched to the 1200 block of Green Street in Reading on May 1 for a report of an unresponsive infant, according to court documents obtained by 69 News.
Paramedics arrived and took Rivera to Reading Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy showed the baby died of retroperitoneal hemorrhage and acute pancreatitus due to blunt impacts to his abdomen. According to court papers, the doctor who conducted the autopsy said the injuries could have been caused by squeezing the child.
"That's their mom they gave birth to them why would she do something like that to her own kids?" asked Christina Ramos, a mother in Reading who could not believe the allegations.
According to authorities, Smith became frustrated with Jeramyah's crying. During a police interview on July 3, Smith said she grabbed and squeezed the baby near the abdomen on or around April 28 or 29 in the 100 block of Grant Street in Ephrata, Lancaster County.
Jeramayah's godmother and a family friend defended Smith, calling her a loving mother. They said she has an older child, and it was revealed in court Tuesday that she is currently eight months pregnant.
Investigators vowed to seek justice and called Jeramayah the most vulnerable of victims.
"This case we're going to try to get justice for this victim to the best of our ability in using all the resources we have available," said Kurland. "I know parenting can be frustrating, but if you find yourself stepping over that envelope, please step back because a moment's anger is not worth a lifetime of regret."
Smith was charged Tuesday with third degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and related offenses.