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Steinberg Jury Rehears Testimony on Nussbaum’s Condition

January 27, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jurors finished their fourth day of deliberations Thursday without a verdict on murder charges against Joel Steinberg, and asked for fresh clothing to be sent to them from their homes.

That hint of possibly protracted deliberations came after the trial-level state Supreme Court jury asked if it could review testimony on the physical condition of Hedda Nussbaum, Steinberg’s abused companion.

Justice Harold Rothwax said the panel could use a doctor’s testimony and a videotape of Ms. Nussbaum to assess her condition and capabilities at the time of her arrest in the death of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg.

Steinberg, 47, is charged in the fatal beating the little girl he illegally obtained at birth from an unwed teen-ager. The child was removed comatose from his apartment Nov. 2, 1987, and died of a brain injury three days later.

Ms. Nussbaum, 46, who lived with Steinberg, testified against him in exchange for limited immunity from prosecution. Steinberg’s lawyers charge it was Ms. Nussbaum who fatally beat the girl; prosecutors say she was too physically and emotionally disabled to have done so.

The jury, in its fifth note since deliberations began Monday, asked to rehear testimony of Neil Spiegel, an emergency room doctor at Bellevue Hospital who examined Ms. Nussbaum after her arrest Nov. 3, 1987.

″She was chronically debilitated, malnourished, wasted,″ Spiegel said in his testimony.

He said she appeared to be a drug abuser and was perhaps weeks from death when he saw her because of a gangrenous right leg that could lead to a fatal blood infection.

The judge has told the jury it may not use Ms. Nussbaum’s condition to conclude that because Steinberg allegedly beat her, he therefore beat Lisa.

The jurors asked Rothwax whether they could use Spiegel’s testimony and the police videotape to assess Ms. Nussbaum’s condition and capabilities. The judge said yes.

Rothwax has told the jury that it must unanimously acquit Steinberg of murder before considering lesser charges of first-degree manslaughter, second- degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.