Testimony in Nixzmary trial contradicts ME

February 25, 2008 3:49:52 PM PST
There was testimony Monday in the Nizmary Brown murder trial that bolsters the defense's case. It also went against previous testimony from the medical examiner about the young girl's injuries.Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer has been covering the trial since it began. He has the story.

Dr. Charles Wetli, Suffolk County's former medical examiner, took the stand Monday. And his testimony tried to raise doubts about the cause of Nixzmary Brown's death. The prosecutor's experts claim it is child abuse syndrome with a subdural hemotoma.

But Dr. Wetli countered that that explanation is not an appropriate cause of death.

"The actual cause of death was blunt force impact to the head," Dr. Wetli said.

While the doctor does believe Nixzmary was an abused child, suffering numerous bruises and contusions to her body, he told the jury, "Aside from the head injury, there are no other injuries that contributed to this child's death."

"This child did not die of child abuse syndrome," defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said. "none of the injuries that she had to her body contributed to her death in any way."

Cesar Rodriguez, Mixzmary's stepfather, is on trial for murder. Prosecutors contend he dealt the fatal blow. But Schwartz tried to raise further doubt in his questioning.

Schwartz: "Could an adult female be capable of inflicting injury?
Wetli: "Yes."

The defense claims Nixzmary's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, caused her death. And while Dr. Wetli did admit Nixzmary was underweight at 37 pounds, he testified, "I see no evidence for starvation in this child. I did not see anything that suggests she was malnourished."

But what he did see in his review of her autopsy, as he told the jury, was that Nixzmary suffered six individual blows to her head.