Monday, March 17, 2008

Closing Arguments Presented In Nixzmary Brown Murder Trial

It took two years to get to a jury and now after nearly 11 weeks of evidence, the prosecution and defense in the Cesar Rodriguez murder trial has made its final arguments to the jury. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Showing a picture of the battered and bruised body of a dead little girl, the prosecution told jurors that while her voice cannot be heard, "Nixzmary remains the most eloquent piece of evidence in this case."

"Her body speaks volumes," said Prosecutor Ama Dwimoh. “Each mark, bruise, laceration, ligature mark and contusion tells a story of systematic abuse.”

Abuse, she said, suffered at the hands of her stepfather Cesar Rodriguez. Dwimoh went on to say the malnourished 7-year-old was given "a steady diet of fists" and died a slow death caused by child abuse syndrome.

"We believe that the evidence is there and that we've proven our case beyond a reasonable doubt but it’s up to the jury,” said Dwimoh.

The defense blamed Nixzmary's mother Nixzaliz Santiago for her death calling her "Mommy Dearest." Defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz recounted the testimony of his so-called "secret witness,” a jailhouse cellmate of Santiago's who's facing fraud charges. She testified behind closed doors that Santiago told her she beat Nixzmary until she was lifeless. During summations, Schwartz held up a picture of Santiago to jurors and called her a "calm, cold-blooded murderess."

He went on to say that Santiago is the main character in a book the secret witness was writing about the alleged confessions called, "Mama Why Did You Kill me?"

"The title I think was very telling. It wasn't 'Mom and Dad Why Did You Kill Me?' or 'Mama and Papa Why Did You Hurt Me?' It was 'Mama' and it was based on confessions that were made by the killer to a friend of hers," said Schwartz.

As for his client, Schwartz did call him a child abuser, but said he tried to do the right thing to support his family. And that while Rodriguez was out working "breaking his back like a moron, Santiago had the kids locked in a room with no food."

The prosecution maintains that Santiago and Rodriguez acted in concert.

Dwimoh told the jury, "Santiago will have her day. Today is Cesar's day."

Santiago faces a separate murder trial.

The judge allowed the defense to add criminally negligent homicide to the list of charges jurors will consider during their deliberations. They are expected to be instructed on the charges Thursday. The most serious of the charges is murder in the second.

Jeanine Ramirez

Original Article -
NY1: Brooklyn

Related Stories -

Jury begins deliberations in Nixzmary Brown case

Nixzmary Brown Trial Winds Down

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