Closing arguments presented in Nixzaliz Santiago trial

? Closing arguments were presented Tuesday in the murder trial of Nixzmary Brown?s mother, who is accused of standing by as her daughter was beaten

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN - ? Closing arguments were presented Tuesday in the murder trial of Nixzmary Brown?s mother, who is accused of standing by as her daughter was beaten to death.

In her closing statement, defense attorney Kathleen Mullin said Nixzmary Brown's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, twice told her husband to stop hitting her 7-year-old daughter but was unaware that he taped her mouth shut and beat her to death.

At the beginning of the hearing, Santiago?s attorneys told the jury that their client was not a monster. The defense claimed Santiago, herself allegedly a victim of domestic violence, did all she could to save her daughter from abuse.

Prosecutors, however, argued that Santiago failed to take any steps to help her daughter as she was tortured and beaten by her stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez.

Nixzmary died on Jan. 11, 2006, of a vicious blow to the head while being punished for stealing yogurt. She weighed only 36 pounds - about half the weight of an average girl that age.

Rodriguez was convicted in March of manslaughter for delivering the fatal blow.

"There was never any reason in her heart or mind to know or want that man to beat her to death," Mullin said of Santiago, claiming she was a loving but overworked mother caring for five other children.

On the evening of Nixzmary's death, she said, Santiago saw Rodriguez hitting the girl and told him to stop. But then she went to the front of their apartment to put her babies to bed. Rodriguez took Nixzmary to a cold back bedroom, shut the door, coveredher mouth with duct tape so she couldn't scream for her mother, and beat her, Mullin said.

?She had no idea what was going on in that back room," Mullin said. "What she did not know is what the evidence has taught us. He shut that door and he beat that girl to death."

Mullin also sought to discredit witness testimony in her nearly three-hour closing statement, claiming the sequence of events that led to Nixzmary's death was mischaracterized by several witnesses eager to demonize Santiago.

She said Santiago did not consciously take part in beating her daughter to death and didn't know the little girl was dying.

The packed Brooklyn courtroom included Santiago's mother, Maria Gonzalez.

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