Cop who found Nixzmary testifies at trial

Stepfather is on trial for brutal murder
January 18, 2008 11:09:53 AM PST
Wearing green rubber gloves, a police officer on Thursday unwrapped a small chair fitted with nylon rope, a plastic litter box, a roll of duct tape - instruments that prosecutors say were used to torture a 7-year-old girl whose stepfather is on trial for murder.The prosecution unveiled the physical evidence taken from Nixzmary Brown's Brooklyn home on the second day of the trial of Cesar Rodriguez, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed the girl with a blow to the head while punishing her for stealing some yogurt.

Officer Erick Nolan testified he was dispatched to the three-bedroom apartment on Jan. 11, 2006, in response to a report of an unconscious child. He said he arrived to find a lifeless, skin-and-bones child with two black eyes, dressed in the sweat pants.

"She was very thin, emaciated," he testified.

The officer also described how Rodriguez went through the motions of reviving Nixzmary by pressing on her chest, even though she clearly was dead.

Then the witness was asked to unwrap the evidence - now notorious symbols of a case that shocked the city and sparked reforms in the child welfare system.

Prosecutors allege the 29-year-old former security guard disciplined Nixzmary by confining her to a grimy spare room where she was bound with the tape, tethered to the chair and forced to use the litter box as a toilet.

The defense has admitted Rodriguez bound and beat the victim to try to tame her unruly behavior toward her five younger siblings, but claims her "deeply, deeply disturbed" mother delivered the death blow.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces 25 years to life in prison. The mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, faces a separate murder trial expected later this year.