Lisa Steinberg, whose death last year became a symbol of child abuse in America, was viciously beaten by the only father she ever knew, a prosecutor charged Tuesday as the murder trial of Joel Steinberg began.

Lisa died on Nov. 5 when she was removed from a respirator, but "she was really killed days earlier," Assistant District Attorney Peter Casolaro told the jury. "Steinberg beat Lisa so severely that he inflicted those injures which caused her death."Casolaro told the panel that "graphic and grotesque" evidence and testimony will prove Steinberg murdered the child. Six-year-old Lisa was found unconscious in the Steinberg apartment early Nov. 2, 1987, and died of her injuries three days later.

Steinberg, a disbarred lawyer who took the child illegally at birth from an unwed teenager, is charged with second-degree murder.