As mourners prepare to say farewell Monday to the little girl whose killing shocked the city, Nixzmary Brown's mother speaks publicly for the first time.
In a jailhouse interview recorded in several published reports this morning, Nixzaliz Santiago describes her 7-year-old daughter's dying moments and her pleas for help.
Santiago says Nizmary's stepfather threw the little girl into a freezing cold shower because he believed she had stolen his yogurt and jammed his computer printer. Santiago says she begged Cesar Rodriguez to stop, but he wouldn't.
It was in that bathroom that police believe the little girl was dealt the final blow that would eventually kill her. Santiago says afterwards she dressed Nixzmary in warm pajamas. She says the little girl begged "mommy don't leave me," but Santiago admits she went to bed anyway.
Santiago says she didn't return to Nixzmary until hours later when the little girl's older brother came to her mother's room and asked why Nixzmary was not making any noise. By then it was too late.
Santiago says she had been beaten by Rodriguez in the past, including once after she told him not to touch her kids. Santiago says she confronted Rodriguez on a police bus to Rikers' Island after Nixzmary's killing.
She says she yelled, "Why did you take my baby away? Why did you to this to my baby?" She says he responded saying, "he didn't know what he was doing. He said he got blinded by the rage and he was sorry."
Santiago says she still loves her husband and even described her slain daughter as mischievous.
Both Santiago and Rodriguez are due back in court Tuesday to face a grand jury. Santiago is facing charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Rodriguez is charged with murder, sexual abuse and weapons possession.
Investigators say Nixzmary was malnourished and often tied to a chair and beaten. They say she died from a brain hemorrhage triggered by a blow to the head.
A wake for Nixzmary is scheduled for today and tomorrow at the Ortiz Funeral Home at 22 First Avenue in Manhattan. A funeral mass is being held Wednesday morning at 9 at St. Mary's Church on Grand Street in Manhattan. She will be laid to rest in Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.
She will reportedly be buried like a princess. According to published reports the seven-year-old's aunt picked out a white satin dress for hr burial, complete with ruffled sleeves, a layered skirt and a bow.
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