The death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown shocked the city in January of last year. The child was beaten to death in her family's Brooklyn apartment and a history of abuse, including being tied up to a chair and showing up to school with bruises (when she would appear in school on rare occasions), had been noted by the Administration for Children's Services who seemingly did nothing to intervene.

Her mother Nixzaliz Santiago and stepfather Cesar Rodriguez were charged with her murder shortly after her death and now the Brooklyn DA's office wants to reporters from the NY Times and NY Post to testify in the upcoming trial. The Times' Corey Kilgannon and the Post' Douglas Montero had interviewed the imprisoned Santiago and Rodriguez, each of whom gave their versions of the events. From the Times:

In an article published on Jan. 16, 2006, The Post reported that Ms. Santiago had “admitted she stood idle as her sadistic husband viciously beat her daughter because she feared for herself.”

And in an article published Jan. 20, 2006, The Times reported that Mr. Rodriguez had “detailed an approach to discipline that involved hitting the girl, locking her in a room and binding her to a chair all night to keep her from misbehaving.”

Brooklyn ADA Jane Meyers stressed the importance of the reporters' testimony because without it "we would have no case against these defendants." The Times and Post are claiming that the shield law protects their reporters.

Santiago's lawyer said that his client's statement was based on the detectives' version of events, but the ADA says that since Santiago told the same thing to reporters, she was not coerced. However, the Times notes one way the defense will try to discredit the published reports: "Both articles included quotations attributed to the parents, though reporters are typically prohibited from taking notes in the visiting rooms at Rikers Island. The Times article disclosed that Mr. Kilgannon had not taken notes."