Nixzmary Brown
(nicks-mah-ree)
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 conducted, 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 would stall right there. The CPS workers would be the first of many to fail Nixzmary Brown.

In May of 2005, a counselor at the school Nixzmary Brown attended reported to Children's Protective Services that she Nixzmary had missed 47 days of school. An immediate response was made, though the 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 considered educational neglect.

Then in December another complaint was received from the Brooklyn Elementary school. Nixzmary and her siblings were interviewed 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 interviewed them never met with any of the family again. NONE of the children, Nixzmary or her siblings, attended any days of school in the month prior to Nixzmary's death.

There was NOTHING that Nixzmary could to that was considered to be right, in the eyes of her stepfather. Cesar Rodriguez thought that she was nothing but trouble and abused because of it. January 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. Nixzmary 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. Cesar then took Nixzmary into the bathroom and kept forcing her head down into cold water. At the same time, loud bangs and Nixzmary's screaming for her 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 knew 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 already dead. 

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 when she died, she was seven years old. In death, Nixzmary would finally escape the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her step-
father with the approval of her mother.

Cesar Rodriguez had abused Nixzmary physically and sexually for weeks before the night that he killed her. Nixzmary was tied 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 toilet. Why would ANY mother allow this to happen to her child? What kind of a person CLAIMS to be a mother and then stands by and watches this happen to her and child?

Though Cesar and Nixzaliz both gave detailed confession of what had happened to Nixzmary. The attorney for Nixzaliz said that any and all allegations against her were not true:

"She did not abuse Nixzmary in any way. She is not 
an abuser. She is very unhappy with the abuse that did occur, but she is completely innocent of these charges." 
Robert Abrams

Cesar Rodriguez and Nixzaliz Santiago plead not guilty to the multiple felony charges against them. The charges included second degree murder as well as charges against Cesar for molesting Nixzmary and abusing the other five children in the home. Cesar Rodriguez was interviewed in jail and though he did not admit that he beat Nixzmary, sexually abused 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 said:

 "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. I emotionally just burst,"

During the trial Maria Gonzalez, Nixzmary's grandmother, was called to the stand. Since she had been subpoenaed and was there against 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 jury 18 hours over a three day period to find her guilty. Nixzaliz was sentence to a short term of 43 years in prison, she showed ZERO emotion as she was given her sentence and the Judge spoke to her about how she 
ignored Nixzmary's cries for help:

"You may not have delivered the fatal blow, but, it was n your power to prevent the effects of it. 
Were it not for our failure to act, Nixzmary 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, ignored these desperate calls . You left this little 7-year-old 
alone and you did nothing."
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Patricia DiMango

During most of the trial, Nixzaliz simply rested her head on the palm of her left hand and said nothing. Kathleen Mullin, her attorney, said that she felt nothing that could be said would change the mind of the judge when she chose the sentence for Nixzaliz:

"Hindsight tells me that there isn't anything 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 killed Nixzmary:

"Nixzaliz Santiago is not a monster. She did not cause that injury. It was Cesar Rodriguez" 
Sammy Sanchez

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. Nixzmary's life is over, she'll never grow up, she'll never have children of her own 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 her 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."
Nixzaliz's Aunt

Noting that Nixzmary's journey for justice had finally to an end, the prosecutor said:

"The two people responsible for her upbringing, who she called mommy and daddy, have been 
held accountable for her death, her killing. 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 victims 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 manner in which she spent her last days is heart wrenching."
 Erik Pitchal Center for Family and Child Advocacy

Once again it has taken the death of child to snap the agencies that are supposed to protect children, into action. Six ACS employees have either been suspended or have been reassigned. In the first 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 around the same time. A reorganization of top aides was also announced in an effort 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 anything to do with this terrible tragedy. On the other hand, when 
people don't follow the basic practices of the organization, they will be held accountable." 
Commissioner John B. Mattingly 

"The staff made poor investigative decisions and gave inadequate attention to clear warning 
signs of the danger Nixzmary Brown was facing. While it's true that this work is extremely difficult, 
these are examples of incomplete and inadequate steps. Everyone at Children's Services must act 
with urgency and absolute thoroughness when responding to allegations of abuse and neglect. 
That's what the city expects and that's what I expect."
Commissioner John B. Mattingly 

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 11, 2007.

Maria Gonzalez is fighting for custody of the remaining children. She has also filed a $250 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit 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 they, the city, would have followed up in the first place, my granddaughter wouldn't 
be dead and my little grandchildren wouldn't be suffering now."


Return to Nixzmary's story
Click here for pictures of Nixzmary's memorial services
Click here to read about Nixzmary's law

Death Occurred in the state of New York

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