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Man Who Killed 3-Month-Old Baby Gets Life Sentence

South Jersey resident was found guilty of the 2010 crime in September.

A South Jersey man found guilty of murdering his three-month old baby by throwing her into the Raritan River in 2010 was sentenced to life in prison, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced on Wednesday.

Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, 24, of Galloway, was also sentenced to 30 years in prison, to be served consecutively, for kidnapping, Chiesa said. As a result, Abdur-Raheem must serve 89 years without the possibility of parole.

He was found guilty of throwing his baby, Zara, off a Garden State Parkway bridge into the river on Sept. 7, following a two-week trial in New Brunswick. Abdur-Raheem was found guilty of murder, kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child. He was also found guilty of two counts of simple assault, after attacking the baby's grandmother.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the child endangerment count, which will run concurrently with the murder and kidnapping sentences, and one year in prison for the two assaults, according to Chiesa. Each assault carries with it a six-month sentence, which must be served consecutive to the previous sentence, Chiesa said, meaning the full sentence is for life plus 31 years, with 89 years parole ineligibility.

According to the No Early Release Act (NERA), a life sentence is one defined as 75 years, for purposes of calculating the term of parole ineligibility, Chiesa said. According to Chiesa, Abdur-Raheem must serve 63 3/4 years, or 85 percent of his sentence, without the possibility of parole. He must serve an additional 25 1/2 years without parole for the kidnapping, resulting in a total of 89 1/2 years without parole, Chiesa said.

On February 16, 2010, Abdur-Raheem broke into Zara's grandmother's apartment, where the baby was staying with her mother and grandmother, according to evidence presented during the trial. The mother, Vanetta Benjamin, had custody of Zara and had obtained a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem.

He struck the 60-year-old grandmother, Leno Benjamin, over the head, then hit her with his van while he was kidnapping the baby, according to the evidence presented at trial.

He was driving back to Atlantic City when he stopped on the Garden State Parkway and threw Zara 140 feet into the river, according to the evidence. Zara's body was found on the bank of the river two months later.

At trial, Abdur-Raheem claimed Zara was dead before he threw her in the river.

After throwing Zara into the river, Abdur-Raheem confessed to his imam and his parents. He was arrested at his parents' home in Winslow Township the night he committed the crime, Chiesa said.

Following his arrest, Abdur-Raheem gave several accounts to the police, admitting what he had done, Chiesa said.

“This defendant murdered a baby, stealing her away from those who loved her most, ending her innocent life in a horrifying act of violence,” Chiesa said.  “Justice demanded that he receive this sentence, which will keep him in prison for the remainder of his life.”

“This prison sentence closes the book on a very tragic case of domestic violence,” Director of the Division of Criminal Justice Stephen J. Taylor said.  “The guilty verdict secured by our trial attorney was the result of a strong investigation led by the State Police Major Crime Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice, with critical assistance from local and county agencies. I commend all involved.”

RdgwdGRock November 07, 2012 at 08:29 PM
low life scum; prison will be just a long vacation for the shiftless bast*rd. put him to death now
mhatefi November 07, 2012 at 08:56 PM
could not agree more with you rdgwdrock...now our tax dollars go to supporting this waste of life....death penalty all the way.
Bob November 07, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Let him rot there .... It actually costs several millions to execute a prisoner so it's cheaper to let them just waste their life behind bars
Nose Wayne November 07, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Throw them over the bridge !!!!!!
LVMOM November 07, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I agree! Throw him over the bridge! He doesn't deserve air to breath!
RidgewoodResident November 08, 2012 at 02:10 AM
It costs more to sentence a man to death. And before you reply, "take him out back and shoot him in the head", realize that the majority of the costs come from the legal proceedings, and not the actual execution. Unless you want to go ahead and remove those whole fifth and sixth amendment things.
james November 08, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I agree let him feel what that poor baby felt. eye for an eye
Nancy November 08, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Forget about spending any money on this scum. He should be excuted. My tax dollars would be better well spent on the poor and hungry children of America. It shouldn't take millions to get the job done right.
RidgewoodResident November 08, 2012 at 03:09 AM
It costs more to execute someone than to sentence them to a life sentence, which effectively does the same thing - keeps him away from society.
Jay Bell November 08, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Good riddance. This is the lowest of the low. www.firebrandcentral.com
Kean09 November 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Death is to good for this Man..It's said God forgives all. The death penalty costs us more in the end we pay for all his appeals so let him rot in prison..
ohmygod50 November 10, 2012 at 06:33 AM
It is a sad story.
stacie bohr November 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM
I had a conversation with someone a few years back when that woman, whose name escapes me, kept her babies locked in their car seats and then pushed the car in a river so they would drown. The suggestion my friend made was that muderers should be executed in the manner in which they committed murder. While this would never happen, I don't think it's a half bad idea.
Jon November 11, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Come on, ammo isn't THAT expensive! What is the cost for one bullet?
Navarrete Law November 27, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I can't believe the things I read. The children are the ones that suffer the most in this world. They have no choice as to who their parents are. How very sad.
LC December 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM
her name is Susan Smith. A total waste of life. Those poor little boys. I agree with your friend, especially when innocent children are the victims.

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