Saturday, February 2, 2008

Judge Denies Request For Mistrial In Nixzmary Brown Murder Case

Testimony in the trial of a man charged with beating his seven-year-old step-daughter to death resumed Tuesday, after a week of delays as prosecutors and defense attorneys met with the judge behind closed doors, where a request for a mistrial was denied. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Solana Pyne filed the following report.

Attorneys defending Cesar Rodriguez against charges he murdered his step daughter, Nixzmary Brown, asked the judge to declare a mistrial because prosecutors did not turn over evidence, including the identity of a witness, that they say could help clear their client until after the trial began.

However, the attorneys say can't talk about it.

"We have nothing to say based on the instructions of the court," said Rodriguez's attorney Jeffrey Schwartz.

Justice Patricia Hall criticized the prosecution's delay in providing that evidence and the witness as "inexplicable" but rejected the defense request for a mistrial. She said the defense still has time to use it in making their case that Nixzaliz Santiago, the girl's mother, actually killed seven-year-old Nixzmary.

The judge spoke after a hearing behind closed doors on whether concerns for the safety of this potential witness warranted keeping his or her identity a secret. Justice Hall ruled that it did. So, as of now, if the witness testifies, it will be in a courtroom closed to the public.

Tuesday afternoon, jurors returned to hear the testimony of Taylor Dickerson, a forensic scientist with the medical examiner who described the results of DNA tests of evidence the jury saw more than a week ago. He confirmed that Nixzmary's blood was found on items found throughout the house. DNA tests also confirmed a litter box in the apartment had been used by Nixzmary.

"She was abused," Assistant District Attorney ama Dwimoh. "Her DNA has come back on the rope. Her DNA has come back on the blood. Her DNA has come back from underneath Cesar Rodriguez' nails. Her blood was on his jeans."

Defense attorneys admit Rodriguez beat Nizxmary, but insist, again, that he didn't kill her.

"This witness is one of the favorites of the defense because everything that he's testified to confirms that Cesar Rodriguez has been a 1,000 percent honest," said Schwartz.

Wednesday, the defense will have a chance to cross examine the forensic scientist. There's no indication as to when this mystery witness might testify.

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