July 18, 1998 - January 11, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial
CPS received a complaint about the
abuse of Nixzmary
when she showed up to school with a black eye. An interview was
Nixzmary, her siblings and her stepfather were all interviewed, though
CPS was not able to get into the house to check things out. The case
stall right there. The CPS workers would be the first of many to fail
In May of 2005, a counselor at the
Brown attended reported to Children's Protective Services that she
had missed 47 days of school. An immediate response was made, though
case was closed a few weeks later. CPS failed Nixzmary by NOT seeing
that her parents had not been sending her to school, which is
Then in December another complaint
was received from
the Brooklyn Elementary school. Nixzmary and her siblings were
at the school the day the complaint was made. Nixzmary was not taken to
be evaluated by a medical professional and the CPS agent who had
them never met with any of the family again. NONE of the
Nixzmary or her siblings, attended any days of school in the month
to Nixzmary's death.
There was NOTHING that
Nixzmary could to that
was considered to be right, in the eyes of her stepfather. Cesar
thought that she was nothing but trouble and abused because of it.
10, 2006, Nixzmary's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago came home and saw that a
yogurt cup was missing from the fridge. Cesar had bought yogurt for the
children, however, he would NOT allow Nixzmary to have any.
denied taking the yogurt cup and then one of her siblings told on her.
Later that evening, Cesar found his computer printer was broken and he
immediately blamed it on Nixzmary.
Cesar took all of Nixzmary's clothes
off and beat
her, right in front of her mother who did NOTHING about it.
then took Nixzmary into the bathroom and kept forcing her head down
cold water. At the same time, loud bangs and Nixzmary's screaming for
mother could be heard throughout the apartment. Nixzaliz did nothing to
help or protect her daughter and when Cesar took her to a room they
as the "dirty room" and tossed her limp body to the floor, Nixzaliz did
nothing to comfort her. When her mother finally checked on her, she was
Surrounded by rodents and filth in
the "dirty room",
Nixzmary died alone, on the floor, for the simple crime of having been
hungry enough to sneak some yogurt. Nixzmary only weighed 36 pounds
she died, she was seven years old. In death, Nixzmary would finally
the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her step-
father with the approval of her mother.
Cesar Rodriguez had abused Nixzmary
sexually for weeks before the night that he killed her. Nixzmary was
to a chair and beaten, she was sexually abused and when she was left in
the dirty room, she was even forced to use a cat little box as a
Why would ANY mother allow this to happen to her child? What
of a person CLAIMS to be a mother and then stands by and
this happen to her and child?
Though Cesar and Nixzaliz both gave
of what had happened to Nixzmary. The attorney for Nixzaliz said that
and all allegations against her were not true:
"She did not abuse Nixzmary in
any way. She
an abuser. She is very unhappy
with the abuse
that did occur, but she is completely innocent of these charges."
Cesar Rodriguez and Nixzaliz Santiago
plead not guilty
to the multiple felony charges against them. The charges included
degree murder as well as charges against Cesar for molesting Nixzmary
abusing the other five children in the home. Cesar Rodriguez was
in jail and though he did not admit that he beat Nixzmary, sexually
her, tied her up and forced her to die in a rodent infested room, on a
cold floor all alone, or the abuse he gave to the other children, he
"I have a lot of guilt.
I'm sorry about
all that happened. I have a problem with my emotions.
It builds up and I hold it all in.
During the trial Maria Gonzalez,
was called to the stand. Since she had been subpoenaed and was there
her will, she would only say that the children were afraid of Cesar:
"They had a respect for him,
but it wasn't
a respect out of love. It was a respect out of fear.
As soon as he would get home,
right away they
would run off to their room."
Cesar Rodriguez was convicted of
first degree manslaughter.
For his part in the killing of Nixzmary he received a RIDICULOUS
sentence of ONLY 29 years.
Nixzaliz Santiago was acquitted of
murder on October
17, 2008, she was, however, found guilty of manslaughter. It took the
18 hours over a three day period to find her guilty. Nixzaliz was
to a short term of 43 years in prison, she showed ZERO emotion
she was given her sentence and the Judge spoke to her about how
ignored Nixzmary's cries for help:
"You may not have delivered the
but, it was n your power to prevent the effects of it.
Were it not for our failure to
Brown would have probably not died from that blow
on that day. By your own
statements, she gasped
for air, moaning and called for you twice until
she died. You, Miss Santiago,
desperate calls . You left this little 7-year-old
alone and you did nothing."
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice
During most of the trial, Nixzaliz
her head on the palm of her left hand and said nothing. Kathleen
her attorney, said that she felt nothing that could be said would
the mind of the judge when she chose the
"Hindsight tells me that there
anybody could have said today that would have
dissuaded the judge from
sentencing in the
way she did."
Nixzaliz's lawyers said that the
court should go
easy on her since she had not been the one to deliver the blow that
"Nixzaliz Santiago is not a
monster. She did
not cause that injury. It was Cesar Rodriguez"
I sometimes wonder what kind of
person it takes to
defend someone such as Cesar and Nixzaliz and to try to prove that what
they did was in some way not worthy of the punishment they are given.
life is over, she'll never grow up, she'll never have children of her
to love and yet these lawyers think that 29 years or 43 years is a long
time to punish someone for taking the life of a child.
A person also has to wonder, if
Nixzmary had not
died that night, would she still be living in the hellish prison that
stepfather and mother had created for her? Would CPS, Police and other
people have stepped in and helped her, allowing her to live on in more
than just the memory of those who knew and loved her?
Nixzaliz's aunt said that the family
had not been
aware of what was going on in the home of Nixzmary:
"If the family had been aware
this never would
have happened. Never. Never. Never."
Noting that Nixzmary's journey for
justice had finally
to an end, the prosecutor said:
"The two people responsible for
who she called mommy and daddy, have been
held accountable for her death,
They will be spending a very long time upstate."
Ama Dwimo Prosecutor
This case has become one that has
shocked even those
who have spent their lives investigating and standing up for abuse
and their cases:
"The circumstances of the abuse
this girl suffered
were horrifying and among the most tragic
that I've ever come across. The
which she spent her last days is heart wrenching."
Erik Pitchal Center for Family and Child
Once again it has taken the death of
child to snap
the agencies that are supposed to protect children, into action. Six
employees have either been suspended or have been reassigned. In the
week after Nixzmary's death the agency received 2,170 reports of child
abuse or neglect, that was an increase of 71% from the previous year
the same time. A reorganization of top aides was also announced in an
to improve the services provided:
"I'm not going to, however,
just simply in
a shotgun fashion take out staff or suspend or discipline
staff simply because they had
do with this terrible tragedy. On the other hand, when
people don't follow the basic
the organization, they will be held accountable."
Commissioner John B.
"The staff made poor
and gave inadequate attention to clear warning
signs of the danger Nixzmary Brown
While it's true that this work is extremely difficult,
these are examples of incomplete
steps. Everyone at Children's Services must act
with urgency and absolute
responding to allegations of abuse and neglect.
That's what the city expects and
Commissioner John B.
This crucifix, Bible and Angel sat on
a table as
a memorial to honor Nixzmary on the one year anniversary of her death.
The memorial was set up at the office of Emergency Rights on January
Maria Gonzalez is fighting for
custody of the remaining
children. She has also filed a $250 million dollar wrongful death
against the ACS, for missing signs that the children were abused:
"I did it for my grandchildren,
not for me,
because I'm not interested in the money. For the children, because if
the city, would have followed up in the first place, my granddaughter
be dead and my little
be suffering now."