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Tough Talk In the Aftermath of Tiny Girl’s Slaying

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Child murderers should receive the highest penalty under the law, a state senator and the borough’s district attorney urged this week. On the day 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown was buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery, State Senator Carl Kruger and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced the introduction of legislation that would allow prosecutors to slap first-degree murder charges on defendants who murder children. “It’s unfortunate that it took a heart-wrenching situation to look at these things,” Kruger said. “A civilized society should require life without parole for someone who kills and tortures a child,” he added. Hynes this week also joined Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, and Queens lawmakers Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn and Senator Serphin Maltese called for the introduction of Nixzmary’s Law, which would create the crime of Aggravated Murder of a Child, a Class A1 felony, punishable by life in prison. The new classification would apply to the killing of a person less than eighteen years of age, by a parent or guardian. Among the charges faced by Nixzmary’s mother, Nixaliz Santiago, and the stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, are second-degree murder. If convicted of the most serious charges against them, they face 25 years to life in prison. Hynes upgraded the charges against the mother because she showed, “depraved indifference to human life,” he said, according to a report. Currently, first-degree murder is reserved for those who kill cops, judges, and correctional officers; as well as homicides with multiple victims; murders that fit into a pattern of serial killings; and murderers who subject a victim to torture from which they derive a ‘sense of pleasure.’ First-degree murder carries a penalty of life behind bars without the possibility of parole. In a case that shocked the city, Nixzmary was found beaten to death inside her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment last week. Police officials said Nixzmary was starved and that her stepfather periodically tied her to a chair, sexually abused her, and forced her to eat cat food. She was the fourth child in the past two months to die while her case was under investigation by child welfare workers. In May, caseworkers from the Administration for Children’s Services visited the apartment, and determined there was no evidence of abuse. The grand jury in Nixzmary’s case felt there was not enough evidence to show that her stepfather, who allegedly inflicted the fatal blow after a long pattern of abuse, derived pleasure from the alleged torture. In December, ACS workers, as well as two child abuse detectives from the NYPD, again visited, spoke to the girl’s family members, and reported that all appeared well, according to reports. When Nixzmary was found dead on Jan. 11, she was 4 feet tall and weighed just 36 pounds. The mayor has called for a full investigation of the ACS, and already, disciplinary action has been taken against six child welfare workers and two managers.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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