Former ME cross-examined in Nixzmary trial

February 26, 2008 4:06:14 PM PST
The prosecution fought back Tuesday in the murder trial of Nixzmary Brown.They challenged the testimony of an expert called by the defense who said Monday that the little girl did not suffer from child abuse syndrome.

Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer has the story.

Prosecutors on Tuesday cross-examined Dr. Charles Wetli, Suffolk County's former medical examiner, trying to counter his claims that Nixzmary died from a significant blow to her head and not child abuse syndrome.

Prosecutor Ama Dwimoh: "With all of the injuries that were continuously inflicted, that this pattern of abuse, had it continued, would have resulted in her death?"
Dr. Wetli: "It's not a certainty, but a possibility."

Later admitting he did not know how Nixzmary's emaciated body became covered with cuts and bruises, Dr. Wetli was shown video statements of her stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, who is on trial for her murder.

"All the bruises we had made, I hit her," Rodriguez said.

Again the prosecutor pressed.

Dwimoh: "Given all of the evidence, the statements by Nixzmary's parents, the injuries, isn't this classic child abuse syndrome?"
Dr. Wetli: "It's child abuse, but not child abuse syndrome."

"We don't take statements into consideration, because people distort statements and they are not forensic evidence," defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said. "He is a forensic scientist and he judges forensic evidence."

Believing she showed no signs of malnourishment, Dr. Wetli was shown large photographs of Nixzmary's bruised and battered body.

Dwimoh: "Would you agree she has little to no muscle or fat?"
Dr. Wetli: "I would say yes."
Dwimoh: "Her eyes appear sunken?
Dr. Wetli: "They appear sunken in the photo."
Dwimoh: "You can see her ribcage?"
Dr. Wetli: "Yes."
Dwimoh: "Looking at this photo, does she appear to be malnourished?"
Dr. Wetli: "She appears she could be malnourished."