BY SCOTT SHIFREL and TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Saturday, February 9th 2008, 6:43 PM
Nixzmary Brown gained only 1 pound in her last two years, and her stomach was empty when she was killed, a pathologist testified Friday.
"There was no food," deputy medical examiner Barbara Sampson said.
Prosecutors have been trying to show that the 7-year-old's stepdad starved her, in addition to whipping, beating and tying her to a chair.
It's long been known that Nixzmary weighed just 36 pounds - at the bottom percentile on growth/age charts - when she was killed.
Sampson also revealed how hungry the second-grader must have been in her final months by testifying that Nixzmary weighed 35 pounds when she was 5 years old.
"Doctor, let me get this right. From August 2003 to Jan. 11, 2006, Nixzmary Brown gained only 1 pound?" prosecutor Ama Dwimoh asked.
"Yes," Sampson replied.
It was gripping testimony, but defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz scored some points, too, chiseling away at the district attorney's contention that Nixzmary died of "child abuse syndrome."
Under cross-examination, he got Sampson to admit she could not say whether Nixzmary would have died from the chronic abuse without a blow to the head that caused bleeding on her brain.
"I think only God knows that," Sampson said.
"I can't call God to the stand," Schwartz pressed. "I have to rely on you."
Sampson conceded she couldn't say with scientific certainty that the child would have eventually died from the other injuries.
It's a key question because Rodriguez confesses on a police video to causing many of the cuts and bruises on the girl's emaciated body.
Rodriguez denies hitting Nixzmary's head. Schwartz has repeatedly claimed that mom Nixzaliz Santiago delivered the fatal blow.
The lawyer also got Sampson to acknowledge that putting a date to injuries, or even estimating the time of death, is not an exact science.
"That is the holy grail in forensic pathology," she said. "There is no one thing that will accurately determine the time of death."
That was also a boon to Rodriguez's case because Sampson earlier testified that Nixzmary had died in agony, eight hours before her parents called 911.
Prosecutors, who will wrap up their case early next week, seemed unfazed.
"I feel very confident that the evidence we put on in the murder of Nixzmary Brown is way beyond a reasonable doubt," Dwimoh said.
Original Article- With comments-
Read the Daily News' original coverage of Nixzmary Brown's death
Jan. 12, 2006:
Jan. 13, 2006:
Jan. 15, 2006:
Jan. 20, 2006:
Jan. 22, 2006: