In Jailhouse Interview That's A Reporter's Dream and Lawyer's Nightmare, Nixzmary Brown's Stepfather Tells Almost All
The headlines in New York newspapers this week have been dominated by the tragedy that was the short life of Nixzmary Brown, the 7-year-old girl who authorities say was beaten to death by her stepfather.
First, it was a tale of a lost innocent dying in such a violent way. Then, it was time to pile on the city's child welfare department, which has had more than its share of kids die on its watch, followed by the public outpouring of grief over Nixzmary's murder.
Today came the most startling revelation in the case, a jailhouse interview the stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez did with reporters from the Times, Daily News and Post. In the hourlong session he poured out his heart about what happened and his difficult relationship with Nixzmary, but stopped short of confessing.
"It's a fragile situation," he intoned. To say the least.
The Times piece by Corey Kilgannon is typically restrained as Rodriguez all but blames Nixzmary for her own death.
"I ask her why she had to put me through so much trouble," he says.
Rodriguez said he had agreed to the interview to give his side of the story. After seeing what the Daily News and the Post wrote, he will undoubtedly have second thoughts.
Both papers have already done everything to Rodriguez but lynch him and drag his corpse through the streets for everyone to spit on. Not that such an action would be a terrible thing in this case, but not a sentiment for a newspaper to foment.
"Sicko Dad Blames Angel" blares the Daily News. And the story by Lisa Munoz and Tracy Connor, the paper's judge and jury, proceeds predictably from there.
In an outrageous jailhouse interview the day after she was buried, Rodriguez revealed the demented conversation he has with Nixzmary's spirit while he lays awake in his cell at night.
"I ask her why she had to put me through so much trouble," he told reporters, wringing the same hands he used to pummel the child and tie her to a chair in a locked room.
Vivid, yes. Appropriate, no. But then again, the Daily News is loath to be outdone in its zeal by the Post, even if it means such prose borders on self-parody. On that account, we'll call this story a draw. From a dispatch penned by Douglas Montero, Marsha Kranes and Andy Geller:
Stepfather from hell Cesar Rodriguez turned into a sniveling crybaby yesterday as he said he killed Nixzmary Brown by accident — and that she brought it on herself.
While insisting in a jailhouse interview that he has "a lot of guilt," the heartless Rodriguez insisted he's a good father and, amazingly, said the 7-year-old drove him to kill her.
There's a difference between powerful writing to convey the drama of a story and hype just for the sake of stirring motions that are already at full boil.
If anything the tabloids went to great lengths to insult their readers' intelligence, as if anyone needs a road map to conclude that Rodriguez's cowardly rationales for treating Nixzmary the way he did are anything but outrageous and deserving of a firm, swift punishment.
Rodriguez can hang himself just fine, thank you.