PUBLISHED: 07:15 EST, 23 August 2012 | UPDATED: 07:15 EST, 23 August 2012
A father accused of throwing his three-month-old daughter off a bridge repeatedly confessed doing so to investigators, prosecutors said in opening statements of his murder trial.
New Jersey man Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem’s own words will help show he’s guilty of murder, the prosecution said.
But defense lawyers told reporters they will prove reasonable doubt, The Star-Ledger reported.
Trial: Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem listens to his attorney Richard Klein while being arraigned by Judge Frederick DeVesa in State Superior Court in New Jersey
Victim: Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem was just three months old when she was thrown from a bridge in New Jersey, allegedly by her father
The trial is expected to take about three weeks.
Abdur-Raheem is charged in the death of Zara Malani-lin Abdur-Raheem and the attempted murder of the child’s grandmother, Leno Benjamin, who was then 60.
Prosecutors claim Abdur-Raheem abducted the baby from her grandmother’s East Orange apartment in February 2010, assaulting the woman and hitting her with his van.
They say he then parked on the Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway and threw or dropped the baby into the Raritan River.
The baby’s body was found several weeks later along the riverbank by passersby.
The child’s mother, Venetta Benjamin, had sole custody of the infant and had left her in her mother’s care while she sought a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem in a Newark court.
Grief: Venetta Benjamin, the mother of the dead three-month-old girl, was accompanied by several friends as she appeared in court for the arraignment of Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem
Besides the murder count, the 24-year-old former Galloway Township resident faces charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault and child endangerment.
Abdur-Raheem’s father, Mushin Raheem, has said the relationship between his son and Benjamin, who are not married, had been bumpy since they started dating as freshmen at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
The trial is expected to take about three weeks. The state Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case because it involves incidents in Essex and Middlesex counties.
State Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fried told the court: ‘At some point, he decides that he’s going to see this baby and no one’s going to stop him.’
He said when Benjamin won’t give him the baby, Abdur-Raheem knocked the woman to the ground, punched her in the face, choked her and smashed her head on the floor.
Abdur-Raheem is charged with murder, kidnapping, attempted murder, endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault.