ZACHARY — Two days after the death of her 11-month-old son, Iesha Tolbert tries to recall happy memories of his “pretty smile” as she comes to terms with her present reality: the fact that her husband — a man she has known for 15 years — could have murdered their baby.
An autopsy determined that Jericho Smith — whom Tolbert called her "boy angel" who often "brightened up the room with his smile" — died of multiple gunshot wounds, stab wounds and blunt force injuries, said East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark, who ruled the baby's death a homicide.
Jericho's father, 33-year-old Fabian Smith, was arrested Saturday and booked into Parish Prison on one count each of first-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
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One of Smith’s other children alerted a neighbor that something was wrong, and the neighbor then found Jericho unresponsive, in a pool of blood on a bedroom floor inside Smith's house. Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said Smith told the neighbor: “I done messed up — call 911.”
Jericho was pronounced dead at the scene.
McDavid said police have not yet determined a motive, but investigators did find both a knife and a firearm inside the house in the 3400 block of Hancock Street.
Smith was the only adult at the home at the time of the incident — Tolbert also lives there and returned home later — though at least two other children, ages 5 and 9, were temporarily locked outside the house, McDavid said.
Tolbert said she had been married to Smith for three years and has known him for 15. The couple have three children together, including Jericho. Their other children are 2 and 5 years old.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Tolbert remembered Jericho as a happy baby who almost never cried. She said his favorite word was “dada” even though she tried to get him to address her too.
Tolbert asked that people pray for her family and said, “It’s hard for me now to take everything in. … I still haven’t come to terms that this has really happened. I can’t believe it.”
Tolbert was at work when she received a call that her baby had died, but said she thought at first the death was an accident.
Tolbert said she never imagined Smith could commit an act so brutal. "The hardest part is knowing it was his own dad that took his life,” she said. “Not only did I lose my baby, I also lost my husband at the same time."
Update, Oct. 16: The autopsy of 11-month-old Jericho Smith determined the baby died of multi…
Her mother, sisters and pastor are providing a strong support system for her and her children, who will receive counseling in the future.
Theresa Tolbert, Jericho's maternal grandmother, called the death of her grandson "unbelievable … very tragic, very painful" for both sides of the family." (Smith) wasn't a violent person when he was himself," she said. "He was a loving parent, a great provider."
However, Theresa Tolbert said she has not heard from authorities whether he had any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time.
Neighbors said the Smith family had four young children living with them, including Jericho, and Smith himself had eight children from current and former relationships. He worked as a truck driver, neighbors said.
Smith does not have a violent criminal history, according to East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court records. He was charged with illegal carrying of weapons in 2010 and possession of marijuana in 2003. He was issued probation in both cases.