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Man charged with choking infant, beating 2-year-old

| Friday, May 18, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

A Hill District man was charged Friday with choking his girlfriend's infant and severely beating her other child, Pittsburgh police said.

Leon Smith, 19, was charged with one count of attempted homicide and two counts each of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children, said Sgt. Janet Morrissey of the city's major crimes unit.

Smith is accused of severely beating the two boys, 3 months old and 2 years old. The names of the children and their mother were not released.

Doctors told police the infant had ruptured blood vessels on his face and there were hand marks on his neck that indicated the boy was being choked, Morrissey said.

Police charged Smith with attempted homicide because doctors found the infant's injuries life-threatening, Morrissey said.

Smith was babysitting the boys at the Hill District home of his girlfriend, who went out with friends between 12:30 and 2:30 a.m. yesterday.

Morrissey said Smith apparently became angry when the children were crying and began to strike them.

Both children had swelling and bruises to the back, chest, neck and abdomen and severe internal injuries. The infant also had fractured ribs and a lacerated spleen, Morrissey said.

'The doctor feels it was a result of blunt force trauma,' Morrissey said. 'A blow with a fist to the abdomen or chest area.'

Smith was arrested yesterday afternoon at the police investigations branch in East Liberty after coming in for questioning, Morrissey said.

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