Saturday, February 09, 2008

Victim Blaming Sinks To A New Low

In a murder case what's a "good" defense attorney to do when he doesn't have a chance of raising reasonable doubt about who killed the victim? Raise the level of victim blaming to new heights.

The aggressive former prosecutor, Jeffrey Schwartz, has portrayed the mother as the real killer, calling her a "monster" and mocking her as "Mommy Dearest." He has also labeled Nixzmary [Brown] a violent and uncontrollable "little Houdini" — a reference to her supposed knack at slipping out of the makeshift restraints devised by her parents to keep her from attacking her younger siblings.

The huge flaw in this defense of Cesar Rodriguez is that he always had the power to leave his "monster" wife and this "uncontrollable" stepchild. This defense asks the jury to buy this man's rationalizations for systematic child abuse and then murder. This attorney wants the jury to believe that some victims are born asking for it and that some criminals are the only true victims.

This Brooklyn, New York case is extreme, but this defense strategy is in no way unique except that the nasty non-victim who drove a hapless man's actions didn't live. Those who are sickened by this type of defense need to reject it even when the victim hasn't been murdered.

The defense attorney wants the jury to forget that this man made the decision to become his stepdaughter's prison guard and he made the decision to use abusive tactics. This child might have been genuinely rebellious at times, but that in no way justified the choice of solution. Plenty of children have tantrums at some point and plenty of children are mean to siblings at some point. These actions are not the cause of child abuse or child murder. They are nothing more than excuses.

This girl was 7 years old when she was killed but even if she didn't weigh only 36 pounds when she was murdered, none of her actions justify what was done to her. She was effectively being starved when she "stole" yogurt and was punished for this "crime" with a blow to the head.

Anyone who can rationalize what was done to Nixzmary Brown must be viewed as an untrustworthy person even if they didn't commit these acts. We won't know until it is too late what stimulus will give them the internal okay commit horrific acts of violence and to view those acts as justified.

The upcoming trial of the mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, will hopefully determine whether she is guilty of abusing her daughter and whether she didn't protect her daughter from an abusive stepfather out of neglect or fear. If she was also an abuser, she should be held legally accountable.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:59 AM   1 comments links to this post


At February 10, 2008 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People wonder why lawyers are held in such contempt.

There was a case in SC in which a man was charged with the murder of his infant daughter. He slammed her against a wall.

The child was already brain dead when taken to a medical center and was removed from life support. The father's lawyer not only claimed the Medical Center killed the little girl but filed a multi million dollar wrongful death suit against the medical center on behalf of the father.


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