Released Juror Says He Would Have Acquitted Jelani Maraj Because There Isn’t Enough Evidence For A Conviction
Jury Deliberates In Jelani Maraj Child Rape Trial
While most of feel like Jelani Maraj‘s child rape trial is open and shut, the jurors appear to be facing some challenges in convicting him.
An alternate juror, who was released, spoke out saying he would have acquitted Nicki Minaj‘s brother because there was not enough evidence for a conviction.
A Nassau County jury deciding the fate of rap superstar Nicki Minaj’s brother — who is on trial on charges of raping his stepdaughter in their Baldwin home in 2015 — did not reach a verdict on Wednesday, its first day of deliberations.
The panel of four women and eight men began considering whether or not Jelani Maraj, 38, sexually assaulted the girl, beginning when she was 11 years old, repeatedly between April and November 2015 while her mother was at work.
Maraj, arrested Dec. 1, 2015, was charged with predatory sexual assault against a child, which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison, and with second-degree course of sexual conduct and acting in a manner likely to injure a child. He’s free on $100,000 bail.
Newsday does not publish the names of alleged sexual abuse victims.
John Labau, 33, of Freeport, an alternate juror on the Maraj trial, who was relieved of his service Wednesday, said he would have acquitted the defendant because he said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.
“I really do think he did something to her, but based on the evidence I just can’t convict him,” Labau, a custodian, said in an interview outside the Nassau County Court in Mineola.
But Labau said he didn’t believe the defense assertion that Maraj’s wife — who said she filed for divorce in 2016 — fabricated the rape allegations and coerced her children to go along with her story in order to extort $25 million from the Maraj’s family.
The jury, which began deliberating at 11:20 a.m., sent two notes to state Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald, one at 12:25 p.m. and another at 12:42 p.m., asking to have the testimony of four witnesses read back.
The jury wanted to listen to readbacks from the alleged victim, who is now 14, Nassau Det. Jeannette Nardo, and Drs. Aaron Miller and Anne Meltzer, child abuse experts who testified for the prosecution.
Jurors will continue deliberating today.