NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The attorney for a man accused of throwing his 3-month-old daughter off a bridge while the child’s mother was at court seeking a restraining order said Monday that he’s hoping to get his client’s bail reduced and may opt for an insanity defense.
In a brief proceeding in state Superior Court Monday, defense attorney Richard Klein noted that Shamsid-Din 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 pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and attempted murder last fall and has been held on $2.7 million bail.
Abdur-Raheem was present but didn’t speak during Monday’s court conference. Klein didn’t 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.”
State Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz said he could consider a bail request at a hearing next month.
Prosecutors claim 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 has been interviewed once by a psychiatrist and may be interviewed again. He also said he is seeking to subpoena documents from a hospital and two correctional institutions, though he didn’t 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 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.
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