Saturday, February 16, 2008

Defense Begins Its Case In Nixzmary Brown Murder Trial

February 15, 2008

Defense attorneys representing Cesar Rodriguez began their case Friday, hoping to counter weeks of graphic evidence about the life and death of seven-year-old Nixzmary Brown. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Solana Pyne filed the following report.

Jurors have seen Cesar Rodriguez on tape telling police in graphic detail how he tied up and repeatedly beat his seven-year-old stepdaughter, statements supported by forensic evidence, including the little girl's blood on his pants, and her DNA on the ropes he admits to using to tie her to a chair.

But now as he starts his defense, attorney Jeffrey Schwartz hopes to convince the jury that despite all that, Rodriguez is not the one who killed her. He says he'll prove Nixzmary Brown's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, is the one to blame.

"We have one strategy and one strategy alone, and that is to give the jury a complete and full and accurate and fair picture of everything that existed," said Schwartz.

Schwartz introduced his first witness, forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky, to raise doubts about the thoroughness of the investigation. Kobilinsky reviewed DNA analysis by the city medical examiner's office, and said he thought investigators should have taken DNA from Nixzaliz Santiago, who is also charged with her daughter's murder.

"I'm calling this terrible police work," said Schwartz. "I'm calling this terrible prosecution work. I'm calling this a pre-judgement, where they came to a conclusion and now they're just trying to make the pieces fit."

Prosecutors say there was no reason to take Santiago's DNA because, in their analysis, none of the DNA they found at the scene could definitely be matched to hers.

"Frankly, I don't really believe that the expert that was put forth by the defense really damaged our case in the least bit," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Ama Dwimoh. "As a matter of fact, I think he just confirmed and corroborated all the DNA findings that we had."

Schwartz says Kobilinski is the first of more than a dozen witnesses he'll call to testify, including police officers, doctors who treated Nixzmary, and case workers from the Administration for Children's Services.

The defense will continue their case Tuesday, when they hope to enter into evidence statements made by Nixzaliz Santiago. The judge ruled Santiago herself can't be forced to testify because she'll face her own trial and anything she said could be incriminating.

- Solana Pyne

Original Article -

NY1: Top Stories

Related articles -

Defense slams cops in Nixmary slay case -- - Forensic Biologist Testifies In 'Nixzmary' Trial


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