Opening arguments begin in Nixzmary Brown case

Opening arguments began Wednesday in the murder trial of Nixzmary Brown's stepfather.

Jury selection in the case of Cesar Rodriguez concluded Tuesday. The jury consists of 10 women and two men, with four women and two men as alternates.

During opening arguments, defense attorneys maintained that Rodriguez did not kill Nixzmary. Prosecutors and those who know the family argued that Rodriguez severely abused and murdered his stepdaughter.

Prosecutors said that the evidence will show that Rodriguez stripped Nixzmary, forced her head under a faucet of freezing water and threw her naked body on the floor because the 36-pound girl took yogurt to eat.

The defense attorneys said Rodriguez disciplined Nixzmary like he used to be disciplined.

?He didn?t do it with any ill intent, he didn?t do it to hurt the child,? defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said. ?He definitely didn?t do it to kill the child.? Schwartz argued Nixzmary?s mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, killed the child, calling Santiago a ?puppeteer,? a ?manipulator? and an ?abuser.?

According to Schwartz, lawyers for both sides preferred selecting female jurors thinking that they will be more open and fair-minded in judging the facts of the case.

Family friend and community activist Awilda Cordero said that the most tragic element of the case is that Nixzmary will never have a childhood. ?This is a child who didn?t get a chance ? to finish school, have her sweet 16,? Cordero said. She said she has faith that Rodriguez will be brought to justice.

Rodriguez faces 25 years to life in prison, if convicted of murdering his young stepdaughter in their Greene Avenue home two years ago.

Santiago faces murder charges of her own in a trial that will begin after Rodriguez's ends. Rodriguez?s trial is expected to last about five weeks.

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