NEW BRUNSWICK - The mother of a 3-month-old girl who was allegedly thrown off the Driscoll Bridge by her father fought back tears while testifying in court today.
Vanetta Benjamin explained to jurors how she was afraid to be alone with the defendant, Shamsid-Din Abdur Raheem. She also read angry text messages she said were sent from Abdur Raheem when he wanted to see his daughter.
Abdur-Raheem, 24, is charged in the death of Zara Malani-lin Abdur-Raheem, who allegedly was abducted from her grandmother's East Orange apartment in 2010 while Benjamin was in court seeking a restraining order.
Jurors saw surveillance video showing Abdur-Raheem carrying baby Zara from the grandmother's apartment building, then slamming a van into Benjamin's mother as she tried to stop him from leaving with the child.
Authorities say Abdur-Raheem took Zara and parked on the bridge along the Garden State Parkway. Authorities say he threw the girl into the Raritan River. Her body was discovered about two months later.
The jury heard excerpts of a phone call Abdur-Raheem made to Benjamin from jail months after Zara's death. In the call, Abdur-Raheem seems to beg Benjamin for mercy, saying "my life is almost gone by being in here." To that, Benjamin replied "My daughter has no life. She's not here anymore," and goes on to say "You put yourself in this situation."
Prosecutors say that Abdur-Raheem did confess to the crime, but the defense says it will show reasonable doubt.
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