2006-01-25 / Front Page

Life Without Parole For Child Murderers

By John Toscano

The death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown was a “horrific call to action”, state Senator Serphin Maltese said as he announced legislation that would increase prison time to life without parole for a parent or guardian who murders a child.

Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, stated, “Unfortunately, we are too late for little Nixzmary, but we hope to pass this legislation for it to act as a deterrent to, and as the appropriate punishment for, those who would commit such a heinous crime in the future.”

Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) declared: “Anyone who would do this to a child, most especially the very ones a child should be able to depend on for safety and love—the parents—should be dealt the most severe sentence on the books.

“It is particularly unfortunate that we don’t currently have the death penalty because that would be most appropriate in such a case.”

The legislation would create a new class A-1 felony for aggravated murder of a child under the age of 18 and would carry a penalty of life without parole, Maltese said.

Under the current law, he added, Nixzmary, one of six children, was allegedly murdered by her stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, in the family’s Brooklyn home following many years of abuse by him. He has been charged with intentional murder. The victim’s mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, received the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Mayersohn (D–Flushing) recalled that several years ago, she introduced a package of legislation dealing with child abuse. Unfortunately, she said, none of that legislation ever advanced, but one of the failed bills was a version of the new legislation that she and Maltese are now offering. If it had passed, Rodriguez would be facing the tougher penalty.

Justifying the more serious penalty meted out under her current bill, Mayersohn stated, “I’m not a lawyer, but I am a mother and a grandmother. These crimes are an abomination, a sin against everything that our society is supposed to believe in. Those who commit them deserve to be punished by the maximum penalty allowed by law.

“These children are dead and buried and will never be able to walk the streets again. The people who killed them should never be able to do so again either.”

Maltese, who was once Deputy Chief of the Homicide Bureau in the Queens district attorney’s office, said, “I know firsthand the horrible nature of these crimes. The depraved indifference and cruelty that some parents and guardians have for the welfare of these innocent children is appalling.

“We must not let them off lightly. At the same time, we must also work to change the system that is responsible for protecting these most vulnerable and preventing the abuse from happening in the first place.”

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