Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dad who threw 3-month-old daughter off bridge gets life in prison (New Brunswiick, New Jersey)

We've been reporting on this case for almost two years. Finally dad SHAMSIDDIN ABDUR-RAHEEM has been sentenced to life in prison. Not really touched upon here is how this father was coddled by the authorities and CPS before he murdered his own infant daughter by callously throwing her off a bridge.

Father who threw his three-month-old daughter over a New Jersey bridge sentenced to life in prison 

Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, 24, received an extra 30 years to his life sentence for the baby's kidnapping 

In February of 2010 Abdur-Raheem abducted his daughter Zara before tossing her over a New Jersey bridge 

Father previously testified: 'I tossed my daughter off the bridge ... I don’t know why' 

Judge: 'You should never be on the streets again'

PUBLISHED: 17:48 EST, 7 November 2012 | UPDATED: 17:50 EST, 7 November 2012

A New Jersey man who threw his three-month-old daughter off a bridge and to her death has been sentenced to life in a state prison.

Appearing in a New Brunswick courtroom with little mercy Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, 24, was called 'despicable' by the judge while given an additional 30 years onto his life sentence for his baby Zara's 2010 kidnapping.

'You should never be on the streets again,' Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz told Abdur-Raheem before his sentencing which prevents any possibility of his parole before serving 89 years, reports.

In September Abdur-Raheem was found guilty in the February 16th kidnapping of his daughter before throwing her over a Garden State Parkway bridge. Her body was recovered two months later on the bank of the Raritan River.

The additional 30 year sentence for kidnapping, ordered to be served consecutively, requires Abdru-Raheem to serve 85 per cent of the extended sentence before he is eligible for parole.

'Mr Abdur-Raheem, your conduct is despicable,' Judge Ferencz fired at the man while mutually calling him 'narcissistic and self-centered.'

'You're not a good person,' he added.

Abdur-Raheem told the judge he comprehended the horrific effect his actions had taken and sympathized with the additional victims it created.

'I commiserate with everyone involved in this. I obviously believe a human being is the world's most valuable resource. It is sad every time a life is lost,' he said, adding that he 'wonders every time what my daughter would look like and what she could have done.'

In early September Abdur-Raheem was criticized for showing no emotion during his conviction for murder, kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child while the girl's mother, Venetta Benjamin openly wept during her testimony along with his verdict.

Speaking again on Wednesday Zara’s mother emotionally expressed her ensuing loss to the judge: 'I lost the best part of me.

'I'll never get to experience what other mothers have. I mourn the loss of my child. [Her death] has left a void that can never be filled.'

With Abdur-Raheem’s verdict on September 7 he was also found guilty of two counts of simple assault after attacking the baby's grandmother over the head and then again with his car during the February 16th kidnapping.

The infant's mother had custody of the child at the time of the attack with a restraining order filed against Abdur-Raheem that same day.

In September she thanked all those 'who have worked tirelessly on this case and verdict, to ensure justice for my daughter', adding: 'God is good.'

New Jersey’s attorney general lauded the verdict, saying it was 'a chapter in a tragedy, but a chapter that needed to be written', in a case that prompted an overhaul of the state’s rules on issuing missing child alerts.

Abdur-Raheem admitted during the trial that he threw three-month-old Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem off a Garden State Parkway bridge into the Raritan River but said he didn't know why.

But he claimed he believed the child already was dead from injuries she suffered during a fight with the baby’s grandmother.

The jury acquitted Abdur-Raheem of attempted murder of the baby’s maternal grandmother, Leno Benjamin.

 The grandmother had been caring for the infant at her East Orange apartment after the child’s mother obtained a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem.

Abdur-Raheem testified that during a struggle with the child’s grandmother, the baby fell and hit her head.

But a state forensic anthropologist testified the skull fractures found on the baby were made at or about the time of death and that they were caused by a significant fall and not one of four feet or less.

During his testimony, Abdur-Raheem said he placed the infant in a knapsack, and pushed her out the passenger side window and off the Driscoll Bridge, into the river more than 100 feet below.

'I tossed my daughter off the bridge,' he said. 'I don’t know why.'

Family members said at the time of the baby’s disappearance that the couple, who never married, had a bumpy relationship since they started dating as freshmen at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Abdur-Raheem, of Galloway Township, wore a suit, tie and glasses in court, and showed little reaction during the proceedings in front of State Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz. Abdur-Raheem’s mother and father, both present in court for the verdict, declined to comment.

 His attorney, Michael Priarone, did not comment following the verdict, and did not return a call seeking comment.

Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fried, who prosecuted the case, said he appreciated that jurors seemed to have taken their time because they were taking the case seriously.

The jury deliberated for four days and made several requests for clarification on legal points and to have testimony transcripts read to them.

'People came up to me and said: "Why isn’t there a verdict?" Obviously this jury wanted to be very, very careful, and they took it very seriously, and obviously came out with the right verdict,' Fried said.

Abdur-Raheem faces a minimum of 40 years in prison on the murder and kidnapping charges and up to life in prison when he’s sentenced November 7, Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.

The case prompted changes to the state’s procedures for issuing Amber Alerts, information about a missing child broadcast on television and radio stations and posted on electronic highway message boards.

No alert was issued between the time Zara went missing and Abdur-Raheem was arrested because state law then discouraged use of the alerts in suspected domestic cases.

 Now, state police issue the alerts even in cases of suspected parental involvement in a child’s abduction.