Kim Crawford, 21, was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and ordered held without bail Tuesday in the death of Jamar Johnson.
Her landlord told The Associated Press that he had helped her move into the apartment, attaching the flatscreen television on a wall. However, before he even met the young woman, Edgar Parker had a premonition.
"I had a feeling I shouldn't have her here" - mainly because there were problems with her paperwork, which was delayed.
"I was saying, `I don't want to rent her the apartment' - I felt something coming," he said. "But she called and begged me." He said Crawford was in another apartment that had to be vacated; he didn't know why she needed to leave.
Police responded to the home on Friday at about 7:15 p.m., and found the dead boy, prosecutors said.
Crawford told them she'd gotten angry at him for breaking the TV while playing the video game. He was beaten violently, causing fatal internal injuries, but did not call for help until he was ill and vomiting, then fell unconscious and died, prosecutors said.
Jamar was unresponsive when police arrived. Crawford initially told investigators he was sick and didn't wake up, but eventually confessed after two days of questioning that she hit the boy hard in the back and stomach, authorities said.
Defense attorney Camille Abate did not return a call seeking comment. She told the Daily News that Crawford shouldn't have been charged with murder. The facts do not establish that she tried to kill her child, Abate said.
"Whether or not she did it on purpose doesn't matter, because my beautiful grandson is gone and he's not coming back," Jamar's grandmother, Betsy Johnson, told the News. "It's a tragedy. It's inexcusable."
Crawford moved into the $570-a-month, three-bedroom apartment on June 10 under a federal rental assistance program, Parker said.
The second-floor apartment is in a two-story, woodframe house on a quiet, tree-lined street of the borough's Williamsbridge neighborhood, which has a large population of Caribbean and West Indian immigrants.
When Parker finally met Crawford, the landlord said, "she looked quiet, innocent - one of those Christian-looking people. She seemed decent, shy, nice."
The boy was believed to have been injured sometime last week, and Crawford has been accused of refusing to call for help because she feared she would get in trouble. The medical examiner's office ruled Jamar died from blunt impact injuries of the torso with internal injuries and peritonitis, an infection that can result from untreated injuries.
"He was cute, he was sweet," Parker said. And the apartment looked "neat," he added, with the boy running to the refrigerator to get ice cream.
But in the past, police had been called at least nine times on domestic violence reports involving Crawford and the boy's father. The Administration for Children's Services is investigating the case, said spokeswoman Elysia Murphy.
Crawford's second child was removed from the home and is in child welfare custody.
Parker said the girl is 2, and he last saw her when she left with her grandmother, who he said is a minister.
After the boy's death, Parker said, "I felt sick, I felt terrible, I couldn't eat."
Child welfare officials are also investigating the death of another child killed over the weekend in the Bronx.
Three-year-old Enidaliz Oritz-Encarnacion was found dead on Saturday and her mother's boyfriend, Edgar Algarin, was awaiting arraignment Tuesday on murder charges. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney. Police say the boyfriend became enraged and attacked the toddler.
The child was taken to a hospital and later died from blunt impact injuries of torso and compression of neck, the medical examiner's office determined.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.