Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem of Galloway admitted Thursday that he took his infant daughter after struggling with the baby’s grandmother in her East Orange apartment, and then tossed the baby into the Raritan River, according tp The Star-Ledger.
Testifying before a courtroom in New Brunswick, the 24-year-old, on trial for his daughter’s murder, said he thought Zara was already dead, according to the newspaper.
He said that, as he drove south on the parkway, he looked back at Zara and she didn’t appear to be breathing. "She wasn’t moving," he said, according to The Star Ledger. "She appeared dead."
He said he became upset but continued driving until he got onto the bridge, where he stopped on the right shoulder, according to the newspaper.
According to The Star-Ledger's account (in italics):
In a soft voice, he added, "I placed her in a (blue) knapsack, rolled down the (passenger side) window, and pushed her out. I tossed my daughter off the bridge. I don’t know why."
Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fried then asked Abdur-Raheem to demonstrate, using a book as a prop, how he did it.
"I can’t," Abdur-Raheem said, refusing to take the book.
"You have to," Fried replied.
"I can’t," Abdur-Raheem repeated, his eyes beginning to fill with tears.
Finally, Abdur-Raheem took the book, held it in his hands for a few seconds and, in one swift motion, threw it over the witness stand to the floor.
He then began to sob.
On Wednesday, the baby's mother, Venetta Benjamin, said she screamed "You killed my baby!" into the phone, just after Abdur-Raheem was accused of throwing their infant daughter into the Raritan River, according to The Star-Ledger.
"You don’t know what my mindset was," Abdur-Raheem, 24, responded, accordng to the newspaper.
Abdur-Raheem was calling from the Middlesex County jail, and lamenting about the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars, just as Benjamin drove south along the Garden State Parkway in August 2010. She was not far from the spot where her child was slain, according to The Star-Ledger.
"My life is almost gone being here," Abdur-Raheem told Benjamin, who testified Wednesday during the second week of his murder trial in New Brunswick, according to the newspaper.
Testimony came before Superior Court Judge Bradley J. Ferencz in New Brunswick.
Abdur-Raheem is charged with murder, kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child.
He is also charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault for allegedly attacking the baby’s maternal grandmother and striking her with his vehicle while abducting the infant from the grandmother’s apartment in East Orange.
Abdur-Raheem has been jailed on more than $2 million bail.
Prosecutors say the man abducted the 3-month-old from her grandmother’s East Orange home on Feb. 16, 2010. He assaulted the 60-year-old grandmother and ran her down with a van as he made off with the infant.
Abdur-Raheem, then 21, then drove to the Driscoll Bridge. The baby’s body was found April 24, 2010.
The crime occurred, authorities said, as Zara’s mother was in court seeking a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem.
Grand jurors indicted Abdur-Raheem on six counts in August 2010. (Click on the PDF, right, to view the indictment.)
Abdur-Raheem and the baby’s mother, Venetta Benjamin, were both students at Richard Stockton College, where they met. He was a criminal justice major, and she graduated with an economics degree in 2009.