A city medical examiner spent two days testifying in the trial of Cesar Rodriguez, who face murder charges over his 7-year-old stepdaughter Nixzmary Brown's death. Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson revealed two things: That the girl only gained one pound in two and a half years and that she was dead for seven hours before 911 was called.
The Brooklyn DA's office has been trying to prove Rodriguez's actions led to the child's death. Rodriguez's defense, though admitting he did beat the girl, has been that Brown's mother Nixzaliz Santiago caused the fatal blow on January 10, 2006. The defense even said Rodriguez actually tried to save Brown by doing CPR before help was called on January 11. Sampson said that Brown received a blow to the head, causing a subdural hematoma, on January 8 and was basically dying a slow death for two days. Based on Brown's brain cells, "At least several hours before her death she was not receiving oxygen. She was unconscious at least several hours before she ultimately died."
Sampson added that given Brown's overall condition - severely malnourished at only 36 pounds - the child died of "child abuse syndrome," and that the hematoma was the "straw that broke the camel's back."
The defense believes the revelation that Brown died much earlier helps their case, because the prosecution claims Rodriguez killed Brown on the night of January 10. However, NY1 notes, "Neglecting his step-daughter's life-threatening injuries would be enough for a murder conviction."
The defense will begin its case next week. Defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz has been trying to shift blame on Santiago - who will face a separate murder trial - and on Brown herself, calling her uncontrollable and a "Little Houdini," forcing Rodriguez to tie her to chair and other measures.