NEW YORK — A caregiver accused of beating, starving and burning a 4-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder, facing newly upgraded charges in a case that spurred scrutiny of the city's child-welfare system.
Kryzie King, 27, entered the plea in a soft voice. The murder charge was added to her assault case after medical examiners concluded this spring that Myls Dobson died of child abuse, including dehydration, ending a life full of upheaval: His mother had lost custody of him, and his father was in jail.
"Myls Dobson was forced to suffer unimaginable pain in the last weeks of his short life," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. "Now, we will do our best to ensure that justice will be served in his memory."
King's lawyer, Bryan Konoski, declined to comment.
Prosecutors say King scorched Myls' leg with a hot oven rack, battered him with a belt, locked him on a freezing patio for up to an hour, bound his hands and feet with shoelaces and watched him starve before he was found, unconscious and emaciated, on Jan. 8.
The allegations reflect King's own statements to police, as recounted in prosecutors' court filings. She acknowledged beating him but said he died after falling in a bathroom where she had put him.
"He was giving me a hard time," said King, who complained that Myls had misbehaved and turned away food during his roughly three weeks in her care. His father had left the boy with King, his girlfriend, while he was jailed in New Jersey on an unrelated case.
The case spurred Mayor Bill de Blasio, weeks into his administration, to make changes at the city's Administration for Children's Services. The measures included expanding the agency's access to law enforcement databases to assess whether caregivers are reliable.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.