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Man accused in river death of N.J. infant seeks reduced bail

Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem Personal Photo

Man accused in river death of infant seeks reduced bail
Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem
Personal Photo
(CBS/AP) NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - The attorney for a New Jersey man accused of throwing his 3-month-old daughter off a bridge said Monday that he is hoping to get his client's bail reduced and may opt for an insanity defense.

In a brief proceeding in Superior Court on Monday, Richard Klein noted that Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem has no indictable offenses on his record and was employed and in school when his daughter died in February 2010.

The 23-year-old former Galloway Township resident, who fled to his parents' home in Winslow Township, pleaded not guilty last fall to murder, kidnapping, and attempted murder, and has been held on $2.7 million bail.

He allegedly threw his 3-month-old daughter to her death while the child's mother was in court seeking a restraining order.

Abdur-Raheem was present but did not speak during Monday's court conference. Klein did not say what he would seek for a new bail amount but called the current amount "very high, even in light of the crimes with which he's charged."

Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz said he could consider a bail request at a hearing next month.

Prosecutors say Abdur-Raheem abducted Zara Malani-lin Abdur 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 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.

Klein told Ferencz on Monday that Abdur-Raheem had been interviewed once by a psychiatrist and may be interviewed again. He said he was seeking to subpoena documents from a hospital and two correctional institutions, though he did not offer specifics.

When asked later if he would seek an insanity defense, Klein replied, "We are exploring every legal defense available."

The case spurred a review of the state's guidelines for issuing Amber Alert broadcasts in response to reports of missing children.

No alert was issued between the times 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.

Complete coverage of Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem on Crimesider

  • Edecio Martinez

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