Senate Adopts Nixzmary's Law And Golden's Child Protection Legislation

Martin J. Golden

February 07, 2006

ALBANY- In a continuing effort to protect New York’s innocent children from being victims of violent child abusers, the Senator Marty Golden joined his colleagues in the State Senate in approving a comprehensive package of legislation, including "Nixzmary’s Law," that would further protect children from abusers. The Senate will also act tomorrow on legislation to make much needed reforms to child protection services in order to ensure that caseworkers have the proper resources to identify child abuse and neglect.

"Everyone in the State was shocked and horrified by the brutal, tragic and senseless deaths of Nixzmary Brown and Quachon Brown last month," Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. "The bills we will act on today would close a loophole that allows violent child abusers to escape life without parole when they cause the death of a child, will increase penalties for those who jeopardize the health and well-being of children and will also make commonsense reforms to child protection agencies to provide them with the resources they need to ensure that our children are kept safe and protected."

The Senate today approved "Nixzmary’s Law," a bill (S.6481-A) that would require a sentence of life without parole for parents or guardians who kill a child. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Raymond Meier (R-C, Western) and Senator Serphin Maltese (R-C-I, Queens), along with Senator Nicholas Spano (R-C-I-WF, Westchester), Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose), Senator John Marchi (R, Staten Island) and the rest of the Senate Majority Conference.

The bill is named for Nixzmary Brown, a seven year old Brooklyn girl who was brutally beaten and left for dead last month. Her mother and stepfather have been charged with her murder. Just last week, Quachon Brown, a four year old boy was found dead in a squalid apartment in the Bronx, beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend.

The deaths are the latest in a string of tragic deaths of children from families who were under investigation. In October of 2005, seven year old Sierra Roberts died after her father slammed his knee into her abdomen and beat her with a belt and in November of 2005, 16 month old Dahquay Gillians drowned in a bathtub when his mother left him unsupervised.

This legislation would create the crime of aggravated murder of a child and mandate a sentence of life without parole for the parent, guardian or other person in a position of trust, who abuses and tortures a child under the age of 14, causing the death of the child or intentionally causes the death of a child.

"The tragic death of Nixzmary Brown highlights the need to ensure that the villains who commit these most heinous crimes against our children face nothing less than life without parole," Senator Golden said. "There is no place in society for individuals who have no value for human life, and so, we must act quickly and enact this legislation that will serve as both a deterrent and as fair punishment."

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes called for these changes because the existing law did not mandate a life without parole sentence against the alleged killers of Nixzmary Brown because no felony sex crime was involved. As a result, the killers could be released from prison after 15 years.

"I commend the Senate Majority for taking such a strong stand against those offenders – parents, guardian, and other persons entrusted with the care and welfare of a child – who, betraying that trust, murder these vulnerable victims," said District Attorney Hynes. "Offenders who cruelly inflict pain, abuse, and ultimately death on those children whom they were supposed to protect are not fit to ever re-enter society. These child-killers deserve life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and this important legislation addresses this issue."

Existing law mandates the sentence of life without parole for the death of a child less than 14 years of age only in those cases when a person 18 years of age or more commits the crime while committing a felony sex crime against the child. In all other cases, a person who tortures and abuses a child, causing the child’s death, or intentionally causes the death of a child, can be paroled after serving a minimum term, no matter how horrific the crime.

Legislation was adopted, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), that would establish the crimes of endangering the welfare of a child in the first and second degrees, a class E felony and a class A misdemeanor, respectively.

"I am proud to have sponsored this legislation which establishes the necessary protections to insure that the children of New York remain safe and their lives are not in danger," said Senator Golden. "We must stand up for our most precious resources and allow for them to live within a safe society. As a former New York City Police Officer, I know that abuse of children is a very significant problem and we must work to bring this horrifying reality to an end."

The Senate also approved:

* (S.6289), sponsored by Senator Stephen Saland (R-C, Poughkeepsie), that would provide that a person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child if they leave a child under the age of seven unsupervised in a car when heat conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child.

* (S.6277-A), sponsored by Senator Dale Volker (R-C-I, Depew) that would close a loophole that allows violent criminals who sexually assault children who are related to them to be charged with incest, a class E non-violent felony, and receive only probation.

The bills were sent to the Assembly.