Misogynist Excuses For Killing Women Now Extend to 7-Year-Olds

Meet the defense attorney who makes the prosecutor who called gang rape of a ten-year-old “childish experimentation” look good. Warning: graphic descriptions of extreme child abuse follow after the jump:

Nixzmary Brown may have been only 7 years old when she died, battered and starved, in her family’s Brooklyn apartment two years ago. She may have weighed only 36 pounds — the same as a healthy child half her age.

Jeffrey T. Schwartz, a lawyer for the accused, Cesar Rodriguez, leaving court in Brooklyn.

But for all that, a lawyer for her stepfather told jurors on Wednesday at the opening of his murder trial, Nixzmary was a force of destruction who terrorized her five younger siblings. What’s more, he said, she refused to be disciplined, slipping the ropes that bound her to the chair in her room, just out of reach of the litter box she was forced to use as a toilet.

“She was a little Houdini,” said the lawyer, Jeffrey T. Schwartz.

Nixzmary needed to be corrected, Mr. Schwartz said, and on the last night of her life, after she helped herself to a forbidden container of yogurt, her stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, administered a beating.

Mr. Rodriguez hit Nixzmary with his hands and with a belt, thrust her head under running cold water in the bathtub, and left her naked and shivering on the bare floor of her room, Mr. Schwartz said.

But the state would not prove that he had killed her, Mr. Schwartz said.

Nixzmary died, Mr. Schwartz said, only after Mr. Rodriguez left the room, and the girl’s mother, Nixzaliz Santiago — or, as he referred to her, “Mommy dearest” — took over.

So went Mr. Schwartz’s defense of the man who has been widely vilified since news of Nixzmary’s death shook the city in 2006.

It did not appear to sway a jury that included 10 women, most of them mothers. A couple of them scowled skeptically.

During the prosecutor’s opening statements, several jurors appeared to wipe away tears.

. . . what can you possibly fucking say to that? I can only hope that somehow the Times is engaging in extremely unethical reporting and severely misconstruing the attorney’s statements. But I haven’t got the slightest fucking clue what an acceptable context might look like.

The child refused to be “disciplined” when tied to a chair. “A little Houdini????” Is that supposed to be cute or something, you piece of shit? The child was being abused and tied to things, and because she managed to be resourceful enough to break free from her literal bondage, you call her Houdini? Yeah, I bet she hid a fucking key in her mouth, you utter asshat.

She was starved, tied up like a hostage (or a dog, it’s hard to tell), beaten, judging from her nudity during the deadly beating, quite likely sexually assaulted, and made to use a litter box as her restroom. I bet she was a fucking terror — what child, what person could exist in those conditions and stay sane? Either you withdraw completely, or you lash out violently. This child — a seven-year-old girl — ended up lashing out. And now her stepfather’s defense attorney is apparently using the girl’s “bad behavior” as a defense for beating her to death.

I don’t know if gender has anything to do with this. And this case would be just as tragic and horrific if the child was a boy. But I do know that the excuses being used here look awfully fucking familiar. She wouldn’t listen, so you had to hit her? She just made you so mad? If only she hadn’t done that inconsequential thing you forbid her from doing, you wouldn’t have had to beat her and “accidentally” kill her, and hey, just because you beat her all the time doesn’t mean that you were the one who beat her to death. Yeah, that sounds absolutely nothing like a domestic abuse case.

I feel sick. What horrifically poor excuses for human beings, both the stepfather and the lawyer.

0 thoughts on “Misogynist Excuses For Killing Women Now Extend to 7-Year-Olds

  1. Amy

    You know, I read the Times article earlier today and was just completely blown away. What kind of defense attorney would defend this man? And further, make comments such as those? I was so utterly disturbed. Thank you for writing about it much better than I would have been able to.

  2. Amy

    Er, I wanted to add, I naturally feel the man SHOULD have an attorney, (in case you thought I meant he didn’t deserve one!) but I’m a law student, and I just can’t imagine taking a case like that. Augh.

  3. Brant

    EVERYONE deserves an attorney. I think it is wrong to vilify an attorney for defending the client. Even murders deserve attorneys. Even terrorists deserve attorneys.

    Without an attorney, the guy can later claim he didn’t get a fair trial and get out on a technicality. Would you prefer that?

  4. Patrick

    Maybe the lawyer is making such an atrociously bad and indefensible argument in order to assuage his guilt for defending this monster? Regardless, that’s no excuse for those statements.

  5. tenderhooligan

    Oh my word! I’d never heard of this case before. This is shocking and deeply upsetting.

    (P.S. Sorry if this comment goes through numerous times – I seem to be having trouble with my connection.)

  6. Cara Post author

    Brant, I don’t know if you were talking to Faith, or to me, or to everyone in general. But I certainly agree with you that everyone deserves an attorney. It’s a constitutional right and I would never argue otherwise. That in no way makes this particular line of defense in any way acceptable or, well, defensible. I’m not vilifying the attorney for defending the guy, I’m vilifying him for the utterly disgusting way that he’s doing it. They’re two wholly different things.

  7. Crispy

    I’m not sure how you get misogyny out of this. Misogyny is defined as “The hatred of, or pathological aversion to women.” The victim in this case was a child, with a whole different dynamic.
    Regarding the killing, the stepfather’s defense is to claim that the mother killed the child, and the mother’s defense is claiming that she was not sane. I’m not sure what the Children’s Services Administration has to say, but they had been warned of problems beforehand. The only one who really knows is Nixzmary and she ain’t talking.
    Regarding the horrific conditions, the stepfather is claiming that he had been an abused child. It’s not clear what the mother and Children’s Services will claim.
    I feel sorry for the other 5 children.

  8. BettyBoondoggle

    “The victim in this case was a child, with a whole different dynamic.”

    Right on cue, the misogyny apologists arrive.

    it’s not misogyny, it’s just the brutal torture and murder of a female child.

    Oh wait . ..


    “You are far more generous than I am, Amy. I can only think of one thing this man deserves…and it isn’t an attorney.”

    Seconded. Is the point of a defense attorney to make sure justice is served or to make sure clearly guilty and dangerous people walk free?

  9. Cara Post author

    I don’t even think that abuse and torture of a female child necessarily counts as misogyny — people do evil things to each other every day, not necessarily because of prejudice but just because people fucking suck. Whether or not the abuse itself was misogynist child abuse or totally ungendered child abuse, I can’t tell from this article. What I can tell is that the defense for her murder is misogynist. Which is what I said. In the title of the post. But I can understand how the biggest letters on the page can be easy to miss.

  10. BettyBoondoggle

    ” But I can understand how the biggest letters on the page can be easy to miss.”

    *LOL* You gotta hand it to patriarchy. It does its job of erasing misogyny so well not even 18 pt font can make some see it.

  11. Thealogian

    I agree that everyone has the right to a fair trial and legal representation, I do not believe that that right means that lawyers should not be mindful of ETHICS when practicing the law. A defense that is steeped in a patriarchal, dominance-justifying language/philosophy is unethical in a society that emphasizes human rights and has signed onto a variety of human rights treaties (and adapted those standards in our laws).

    What the step-father did, to assert his absolute control and to “get off” as a result of the abuse is part of a patriarchal, dominance-justifying paradigm. Now, if this had happened to a male child, it would still be part of a patriarch/father dominance tragedy. Remember, patriarchy is about the rule of the father and through the rhetoric engaged here, the defense is asserting the father’s right to control the children any means “necessary.” He owns the children, he can do what he wants with the children.

    Patriarchy is bad for women, girls, boys, men who are not “alpha” or rich/dominant.

    Now, is all abuse, by a man or woman necessarily patriarchal? I would argue that in a patriarchy, abuse and dominance are framed as male assertions of authority and when women abuse, say children, they are continuing that paradigm of the “great chain of being”– you know, you have

    Male God

    Its part of a dysfunctional system of conceptualizing power and “might is right” kind of thinking that patriarchy supports.

    This is a vivid display of patriarchy more so than a single instance of a misogynist at work (or play to him). He may very well be a misogynist, but he is without doubt a supporter (and enforcer) of the values of patriarchy.

  12. Mary T


    On the other hand, how I love the prosecutor:

    “And daddies,” Ms. Dwimoh said, “don’t blame their children for their actions. Murderers do.”

  13. Faith

    “Without an attorney, the guy can later claim he didn’t get a fair trial and get out on a technicality. Would you prefer that?”


    Of course according to our legal system and the constitution the man deserves an attorney. I wouldn’t deny him that for a moment in fairness. But, frankly, anyone who would do such a thing to a child doesn’t really deserve fairness in the whole scheme of things, our legal system and constitution not withstanding. And, frankly, considering the number of child abuse cases I’ve seen, I’m damn tired of feeling as if I have to be apologetic for flat-out loathing child abusers. They are the scum of the Earth as far as I’m concerned.

  14. harlemjd

    I don’t know anything about this particular attorney, but I have some sympathy for him, because defense attorneys in this country have a rough job. (particularly public defenders, who don’t really have the option of refusing clients) If you don’t pull out all the stops, including making disgusting arguments like this one, your client might sue you for malpractice. If you do mount a disgusting defense like this, well, there’s really no comparable sanction. So, predictably, a lot of defense attorneys make arguements that are pretty reprehensible. (which is why I don’t want to be one)

    As far as this particular man deserving an attorney or not, I don’t really think that’s the main point. HE may not deserve one, but WE deserve a system where everyone gets some protection from the prosecutorial agents of the state, because the absolute power those agencies would otherwise enjoy would be horribly corrupting.

    And I agree with Thealogian that this might be an example of misogyny (unclear because male kids get beaten and killed a lot too), but is definitely an example of the related problem of patriarchy (father owns the children and can do what he likes with them). So of course it has similarities to spousal abuse, because those guys believe that they own their wives.

  15. Kate

    This is horrible thing. I hope that little girl is finally at peace away from that terrible home.

    Here’s a thought to cheer everyone up: that man is going to jail with a whole lot of men who have very little in the way of morals and who hate child killers and molesters. He’ll get his comeuppance.

  16. Rowan Bristol

    I can’t begin to imagine anyone making a presentation like this. Moreso, that anyone would select this tactic as a ‘winner’. The sheer pathological hatred of these individuals is horrifying.

  17. Kristen

    Hmmm…Here’s a question. What dumbass would make this argument? It’s nonsensical. You’re making the jury angry. It seems as if there is some evidence that the Mom actually committed the murder. You’re more likely to succeed with the argument that “my client is an abusive asshat, but not a murder.” This argument just makes me so mad that I don’t care whether he committed the murder I want to stuff his ass in jail until the end of time.

    So, imagine if you’re a defense attorney, a public defender who is required to defend this horrific person, and you know he didn’t commit murder, but in your own personal opinion you think he’s as guilty as someone who did. You know you can probably get him off (cause we don’t convict child abusers), but you really don’t want to. And he won’t take a plea. This might just be the type of argument you’d make. There is no way anyone would ever accuse you of failing to zealously defend you client, but he still gets convicted.

    *sigh* This is why I would never be a criminal attorney. I’d end up turning over my license in less than a year.

  18. wiggles

    “what person could exist in those conditions and stay sane? Either you withdraw completely, or you lash out violently. This child — a seven-year-old girl — ended up lashing out.”

    I’m not sure it’s the case that she lashed out, though obviously I wouldn’t blame her if she had. What I understand is that she managed to snag a cup of yogurt out of the fridge – probably having a good idea what fresh hell she’d catch for it if she was caught – because she was starving.

  19. Cara Post author

    Agreed. By lashing out, though, I didn’t mean taking the yogurt from the fridge by any means — I meant the accusations that she was violent and terrorized her younger siblings.

  20. Emily

    You know, sometimes, you don’t have a winning argument. You still have to make an argument. It is up to the jury to do justice. It is up to the lawyer to defend his client with whatever he’s got. This is all he’s got.

    And this is the same guy who’s going to defend women who respond with violence to their long time abusers, who are caught up in their boyfriend’s drug scheme and end up with federal charges with a 10 year mandatory minimum, who are charged with child abuse/neglect for failing to leave an abusive relationship. Criminal defense attorneys don’t cherry pick their clients (unless they work for non-profits and do cherry pick their clients). And we should all be grateful for that.

  21. Cara Post author

    Yeah, I don’t buy it. And quite frankly, I’m getting tired of people trying to defend this guy.

    This isn’t all he has. He has his perhaps bogus perhaps not strategy of blaming the mother. He has the fact that while in this case the circumstantial evidence is pretty damning, it is circumstantial evidence. He could try insanity, and I think that I read somewhere that the defendant was abused as a child himself. These are all defenses. In fact, I think that the lawyer has indeed used most of them. But he still feels the need to throw this victim-blaming shit in. He could have also tried to talk his client into a plea bargain (and maybe he did, I don’t know), seeing as how the guy is pretty damn certain to be convicted, anyway. There’s absolutely no reason to blame a little girl for the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her stepfather. None. It’s wrong, it’s disgusting, and no, it’s not necessary.

    We have other defense attorneys who are calling this kind of behavior disgusting. I imagine that they their opinion would hold more weight than my own.

    It is up to a jury to do justice, though I think we’ve seen recently that this method isn’t the best when juries are so easy to manipulate and are often not given adequate instructions. But it is a lawyer’s job to behave in an ethical manner. A big part of that is to defend one’s client to the best of your ability. It’s not the only part.

    People seem much happier to jump on defense attorneys who claim that fat women should see rape as a compliment, or defense attorneys who try to characterize a raped woman’s cries of pain as moans of pleasure. How is this different, and how is it just as bad if not worse?

    This little girl got absolutely no respect in life. I do think that as the society who failed her, we do at least owe her some respect at her damn murder trial.

  22. Chrissy

    That little girl was tortured and killed. The horror that she felt. And yes, she deserves repect. RIP
    Those arguements for the defense, don’t seem to be a reason that this horrific thing happened. How can one justify this evil that occured?

  23. Pingback: Offensive Remarks of the Month: Defense Attorneys Gone Wild Edition : The Curvature

  24. Pingback: Nixzmary Brown’s Mother Sentenced to Longer Term than Girl’s Actual Killer : The Curvature

  25. murielschnierow

    This is appalling. didnt someone know or see what was goig on? why are we asleep? this pathological monster is a psychopath. lets get into these homes and make sure that the first bruise is the last bruise. letsput in volunteers for birth mothers and catch it before it starrts. i have a file of these cases. Wecan stop it.!!!


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