The mother of Nixzmary Brown, the 7-year-old whose death stunned a city and influenced a new law named for her, was found guilty of manslaughter but cleared of second-degree murder in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Friday.
Nixzaliz Santiago, 30, appeared unresponsive as the jury also found her guilty of second-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child.
"The journey for justice for Nixzmary is almost over," said prosecutor Ama Dwimoh. She went on to praise the jury of 10 women and two men for ruling on the case "professionally and stoically."
"Today is a good day for the children because this jury said loud and clear that parents have a duty - it's not just what you do, it's what you don't do," Dwimoh said.
Santiago faces 25 years in prison on the manslaughter charge alone. She is to be sentenced Nov. 5.
Nixzmary's stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, was convicted of manslaughter in March and sentenced to 26 1/3 to 29 years.
Defense attorney Sammy Sanchez told The Associated Press after the verdict that Santiago should not have been looked at in the same light as Rodriguez. "Cesar was the true criminal," Sanchez said.
Outside the courthouse, Santiago's mother, Maria Gonzalez, avoided reporters as she hustled to a nearby garage.
The nearly monthlong trial brought back to the public's memory the grisly details of Nixzmary's death, including the chair to which she was often violently bound and the litter box she was forced to use as a bathroom.
Nixzmary was beaten by Rodriguez after she took yogurt from a fridge and messed up Rodriguez's printer. Rodriguez slammed her head against a bathtub as she was being doused with cold water. Nixzmary weighed only 36 pounds when she died Jan. 11, 2006.
Her death brought swift and comprehensive changes to New York City's Administration for Children's Services and helped influence "Nixzmary's Law," which charges parents of children who have died as a result of abuse with first-degree murder.
During the trial, Santiago sometimes broke down into tears when prosecutors showed photos of Nixzmary's bruised corpse, even remarking, "This is messed up."
The jurors also heard testimony from an ACS worker how Santiago kept the remains of a miscarriage of hers in a jar. Santiago told Child Welfare Specialist Vanessa Rhoden that she kept the remains because "once she saw the baby's eyes, she couldn't let it go."
Santiago has five other children. Gonzalez is seeking their custody.