Media Law

Prosecutors Seek Reporter Testimony

Prosecutors are trying to force reporters for two New York City newspapers to testify about their interviews with the parents of a 7-year-old girl who was found dead in her family’s home last year. She had been beaten and starved to death.

The parents, Cesar Rodriguez and Nixzaliz Santiago, spoke to reporters from prison in January 2006 about their discipline of the child, the New York Times reports. They are facing charges of murder.

The New York Post and New York Times published stories that same month.

The Post story said Santiago “admitted she stood idle as her sadistic husband viciously beat her daughter because she feared for herself.” The New York Times story said Rodriguez “detailed an approach to discipline that involved hitting the girl, locking her in a room and binding her to a chair all night to keep her from misbehaving.”

The parents are challenging incriminating statements they made to investigators. Prosecutors contended in a hearing yesterday that the reporters’ testimony is needed to show they made similar claims in the reporter interviews.

The newspaper lawyers argued that the state’s shield law protected the reporters.

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