Father who threw his baby daughter over a bridge shows no emotion as he is convicted of murder

By Daily Mail Reporter


A man who kidnapped his infant daughter from her grandmother’s home and tossed her over a  bridge into the icy river below showed no emotion as he was convicted of her murder today.

Shamsidden Abdur-Raheem, 24, from New Jersey, bowed his head and showed little reaction as guilty verdicts for murder, kidnapping and related charges were read in state superior court in New Brunswick.

The child’s mother, Venetta Benjamin, who testified during the trial, let out a quick gasp of air, tears rolling down her cheeks as the verdict was read.

A jury has found a father guilty of murder for throwing his infant daughter off a New Jersey bridge into a river
A jury has found a father guilty of murder for throwing his infant daughter off a New Jersey bridge into a river

Shamsidden Abdur-Raheem, right, kidnapped his daughter Zara, left, and threw her off a New Jersey bridge into the icy water below

She later 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 on February 16, 2010.

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


The infant’s body was found on the shore of the Raritan two months later by passers-by.

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 while the child’s mother was obtaining a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem.

Jurors convicted him on lesser charges related to Abdur-Raheem assaulting the grandmother while taking the child.

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

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

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.


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

In some parts of the world, they don't value children or women's rights ... judging by his name, this man is from some such place.

Click to rate     Rating   155

i wish i'd never read this, the cruelty of some people sould never have to invade our thougts not for a moment

Click to rate     Rating   146

40 years of the tax payer sustaining this thing. Shame NJ ditched the death penalty.

Click to rate     Rating   157

This person has no soul, nor does anyone that hurts the innocent child... Innocence lost to evils grasp.. But in Gods hands she will rest... There are so many couples like my wife and I, that struggled endlessly to receive the blessing we have ... While millions of children are murdered before they even have a voice. When they have a chance to breath and clear the hurdle of " selective murder" , they receive the same welcome of the aborted as this child did... Its the same thing... Just tossed off to die... Heartbreaking We would gladly have taken her in to save her... When I see this sweet young little face I also see all the ones that die without cause .... It's the same thing.. Tragic

Click to rate     Rating   75

Personification of evil.

Click to rate     Rating   99

Poor sweet baby. My heart goes out to her mother and grandma. RiP

Click to rate     Rating   104

This guy gets a minimum of 40 years for killing a baby which I consider too short a sentence, but in the UK Andrew Hall gets a minimum of 10 years for murdering his girlfriend by stabbing her 60 times. No wonder.

Click to rate     Rating   114

'I tossed my daughter off the bridge,' he said. 'I don¿t know why.' I will tell you why, because your hatred of the childs mother far outweighed the love for your daughter.

Click to rate     Rating   186

I just think about the poor couples who fight so hard to have children and cannot... - Voice of Reason , Not where it's needed, 08/9/2012 03:12......well yes but maybe you want to think of the childs mother and family members who have loved the little girl and lost her, and the little angel herself.

Click to rate     Rating   63

This a wicked evilous boy kids are so precious, I hope his life in prison I living hell...I haven't seen my 5yrs old daughter in 2 weeks and it makes me depressed.

Click to rate     Rating   57

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