NEW YORK – Nixzmary Brown may have bought her stepfather, accused of killing the 7-year-old girl, a mug that read "World's Greatest Dad," a defense attorney said.
But a prosecutor said Tuesday that her stepfather was anything but, given the abuse the girl experienced in his care.
A photograph of the mug was introduced as evidence during the defense's cross-examination of a detective on Tuesday in the murder trial of Cesar Rodriguez, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed the girl with a blow to the head while punishing her for stealing some yogurt.
Outside the court, defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said that he believed Nixzmary bought the mug for her 29-year-old stepfather for Father's Day in 2005.
"Ironically, Nixzmary bought it for him," he said.
But the lead prosecutor in the case, Ama Dwimoh, said during recess that she didn't know who bought the mug. "As evidence comes out, it becomes clear that the last thing he was was 'World
s Greatest Dad,"' Dwimoh said of Rodriguez.
During cross-examination, Detective Joseph Bello, responding to Schwartz, said that he took the photograph of the coffee mug and thought it was "weird." He said he didn't know if Nixzmary had bought it.
The defense in the case has sought to shift blame for Nixzmary's killing to her mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, who also faces murder charges in the child's death.
The defense has attempted to portray Rodriguez as an overworked, loving family man who harshly disciplined the girl — including binding and beating her — because of her unruly behavior toward her siblings. But the defense says the mother dealt the deathblow.
If convicted, Rodriguez faces 25 years to life in prison. Nixzmary's mother is expected to face a separate murder trial later this year.